LIVE STREAM & PREVIEW: Poland Faces the Czech Republic in Crucial Qualifying Game

Poland heads into their IFAF Europe Group B qualifier today in Pardubice, against the Czech Republic well prepared and with two wins under their belt and a veteran head coach  in Brad Arbon.

Although the Czech Republic has only played one tune-up game, a 27-6 defeat of Hungary, the team has a seasoned squad and two years ago knocked off Serbia in Group B play.

Coach Arbon is in his first year at the helm of the Polish national team but is accustomed to pressure. In 2006 he won the German Football league South division with the Marburg Mercenaries and he was on the Utah Utes coaching staff when they defeated Alabama in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. However his long term goal is to prepare Poland for the 2017 World Games which will be held in Wroclaw.

Poland - Poland v Belgium6

Poland versus Belgium

His starting quarterback for this game will be Bartosz Dziedzic from the Wroclaw PanthersDziedzic struggled in both games but still performed much better than his backups Karol Żak and Filip Mościcki, and so will get the nod. One of the surprises of the two friendly games has been the play of receiver Tomasz Ochnio who led the team in receiving both games and caught a spectacular touchdown pass against Russia. His teammate, Patryk Matkowski, will also start along with Thomas Dziedzic.

With Poland struggling on offense, their defense has stepped. Polish captain and leader of the team Kamil Ruta played one of the best games in his career against Russia. Rutar is a tackling machine and leader at inside linebacker. Krzysztof Wis, Szymon Barczak, Daniel Tarnawski and Robert Rosołek each had a sack on one of three Russian quarterbacks.

Coach Arbon and his staff need to see an improvement in mental discipline for this game. This was a problem against Russia. Filip Pawelka, Poland’s receivers coach:

“There was lack of concentration and too many flags. We cannot allow that to happen against the Czechs.”

In 2013, the Czechs finished fourth in the European Championship Group B tournament, which was played in Milan, Italy. In the group round, the Czechs defeated Serbia 13 – 9 but lost to the eventual victors, Denmark, 34-0.  In the match for third place they were beaten by Great Britain, 24-13.

Czech Rep. - QB

Jan Dundáček

The core of the Czech national team is the Prague Black Panthers with 24 players on the 45 man roster selected.

Head coach Daniel Leski of the Czech Republic will start Jan Dundáček (Prague Black Panthers) at quarterback and Lukáš Růžek (Prague Lions) will start at running back. Another Black Panther, Jan Štiegler will be one of the starting wide receivers along with Jakub Woleský  (Black Panthers).

On defense, Black Panther Jan Šimánek will anchor the defensive line. His teammate from the Panthers,  Karel Augusta will start at one of the linebacker spots. Dresden Monarch defensive back Ladislav Jenšík leads a dangerous Czech secondary.

So far, Israel, Serbia, Russia and Switzerland have qualified to play in the eight team Group B tournament which already includes Italy and Great Britain. The winner of this game and the final qualifier between Holland and Belgium will join the group of eight for the 2016 tournament.

Watch the game live here. Kickoff 2 PM (8 AM EDT)

Piotr Bera is a Polish sportswriter and American football commentator. He also works for the Polska Press Grupa.