Paulo Sousa feels ‘double responsibility’ in leading Poland at Euro 2020

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Boss Paulo Sousa feels extra responsibility to guide Poland to a successful Euro 2020, saying ahead of Monday’s opener against Slovakia: “I’m not a Pole but I feel like a Pole.”

Sousa was appointed in January and the former Portugal international feels a sense of duty to his adopted nation.

Speaking on the eve of his team’s first Group E clash in St Petersburg, Sousa said: “It is a double responsibility because I’m not a Pole but I feel like a Pole. I know everything about what has happened in the past to achieve this important moment and all Poles want to feel proud.

“We have to be an extension of all the meaning of being a Pole. Everybody wants to feel proud and we have to make sure in every game we do everything we can.

“We need the right attitude, determination, we need to be united, we have to have ambition and courage to win the match.

“I want to see all our players perform and to have our country really proud in everything we are doing. With lots of emotions, hopefully these at the end of the game will be really positive.

“If you go to the dictionary and look at process you have a beginning but it never ends, it always keeps growing and this is what we are looking for.

“I want to see a team who has a capacity to build it from the back, middle and up front. You want to be a protagonist and want to create goals from the left, right and centre corridors.”

Poland reached the finals after topping qualifying Group G ahead of Austria and North Macedonia.

“This is one of the key games, one of our goals is to go through the group stages,” former Swansea and Leicester boss Sousa added.

“The biggest strength of Slovakia is the collective, they have that energy and have the quality to go through the group. They are high intensity all the time, they know what needs to be done and they have a really strong mentality.”

Sousa’s hopes of a memorable first tournament at the helm are likely to rely heavily on prolific Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

Slovakia boss Stefan Tarkovic is aware of Poland’s strengths up front but is optimistic his team can pose a decent threat themselves.

He said: “It has been said the European Championships, and especially the opening game, is something great for us. We have been preparing for a long time.

“Now our preparation will peak and the players are impatient to play. I’m very happy that all the testing has been negative.

“Poland are 15 places ahead of us in the FIFA rankings and have players in the top leagues of Europe. They have a strong attack and we have to prepare for their type of play. Hopefully we will be effective in attack as well.”

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