Warsaw, Poland – The road to Qatar has begun for Poland and Hungary after the 2022 World Cup qualifying groups were announced. The Poles and Hungarians were both drawn together in Group I and will play Albania, Andorra, and San Marino, as well as facing the daunting task of heading to Wembley to play England.
It’s no secret that the Three Lions will pose the biggest threat to both Poland and Hungary’s respective chances of booking a place in the Middle East in two years’ time, but all in all, one could say that this is a favourable draw for both sides. Granted, only one team automatically qualifies from the ten groups, but there will still be three qualification spots up for grabs which will be contested in a play-off system by the best runner-up finishers as well as two Nations League group winners who did not directly qualify for the tournament.
It won’t be easy but there is a definite chance for both Poland and Hungary. As well as being a potentially beneficial draw for these two nations, there are many interesting subplots given that England are in Group I, and considering there are many Polish stars plying their trade in the UK.
In particular, young Polish stars and current Derby County players Krystian Bielik and Kamil Jozwiak will no doubt be in Wayne Rooney’s ear in the build-up to the game. England’s all-time leading goal-scorer is of course the interim boss at Derby County, who it must be said aren’t enjoying life at the moment. Rooney has the toughest of tasks on his hands with the Rams’ English Championship odds of survival rather bleak at just 2.58 to be relegated to the third tier of English football.
But whilst Bielik and Jozwiak do their level best to pull Derby out of the hole they find themselves in, they will also be trying to tap into Rooney’s international experience in the England change room for any advantage that may help them beat the Three Lions when they face each other next March.
The last time Poland faced England in a World Cup qualifier was in 2013 when none other than Wayne Rooney scored in a 2-0 win, which on that occasion, ensured the English booked their place in Brazil the following year.
As for Hungary’s recent history with England, you have to go back ten years to a warm summer’s evening in August when the two clashed in London. It was an admirable showing from the Hungarians but ultimately, two Steven Gerrard goals were enough to hand England a 2-1 win. Historically, it’s been a bit of a struggle for the Hungarians against England over the last six decades, and in many ways, you could say that Hungary are very much up against it when you consider that the last time they managed to beat England in a football match was in 1962.
Records are, however, as they say, there to be broken so hope will always spring eternal for Hungary.
With that said, the Poles will be the favourites to finish second behind England. Jerzy Brzęczek’s men will be itching to get to Qatar to put right the wrongs of the 2018 World Cup when they were dumped out in the group stage.
Talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski failed to make good on his promise of fulfilling his task in Russia by helping the Poles advance and this you would imagine, would be the striker’s last World Cup, given that he will be 34 when the tournament starts in the winter of November 2022. Time may be running out for some but that means the door will open for others. It’s all to play for in Group I with the headlines yet to be written.