Montreal ’76 : North Korea v Poland


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Poland striker GRZEGORZ LATO of Stal Mielec, the winner of the prestigous Golden Boot for having accumulated seven goals at the 1974 FIFA World Cup, finally notched his first goals of the football tournament for the 1976 Summer Games in the Olympic quarterfinal match with North Korea at the brand new Olympic Stadium in the iconic French-Canadian city of Montreal.
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POLAND, the defending Olympic gold medalist, had struggled mightily with both Cuba and Iran in its first round group. NORTH KOREA, meanwhile, had scored two second half goals to snap the deadlock with host nation Canada before being shut down by the Soviet Union. This was the quarterfinal pairing that drew 44,332 to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal for what was easily the biggest crowd yet to take in a football match at the 1976 Summer Games.

Perhaps in direct response to the two goals conceded against Iran in the final group game, Polish trainer KAZIMIERZ GORSKI opted to drop one forward, the 24-year-old, ’72 Olympic and ’74 World Cup veteran KAZIMIERZ KMIECIK of Wislaw Cracow, and employ a four-man midfield. Thus, 30-year-old HENRIK KASPERCZAK of Stal Mielec, the would-be two-time World Cup midfielder who collected 61 caps for Poland in his career, regained his place in the first team. A trio of gold medalists from the Munich Games — the army club pair of captain KAZIMIERZ DEYNA and LESLAW CMIKIEWICZ from Legia Warsaw as well as ZYGMANT MASZCZYK of Ruch Chorzow — rounded out the contingent in the middle of the park for the Polish.

The changes to the line-up appeared to serve the Poles well as ANDRZEJ SZARMACH of Stal Mielec found the back of the net only thirteen minutes into the match with North Korea. The 26-year-old striker, who totaled five goals at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany, posted his second goal of the game and fourth of the ’76 Summer Games just four minutes after the intermission to leave the North Koreans with a genuine mountain to climb. The brace also enabled Szarmach to take over the top spot on the goal-scoring chart at the Montreal Olympics.

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ANTONI SZYMANOWSKI, who played mostly with Wislaw Cracow but did have two separate spells with Gwardia Warsaw, as well, appeared with the national team of Poland at both the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympic Games as well as the final tournaments for both the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups before closing out his career with KV Club Brugge in Belgium in 1984.
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Unfortunately for the team trained by PAK DOO-IK, the one-time army corporal whose goal provided North Korea a famous 1-0 win over Italy at the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, things only went from bad to worse shortly before the hour mark at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The expulsion of forward AN SE-UK of SC Amrokgang, the official team of the Ministry of People’s Security in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, allowed an already offensive-minded Polish side even more time and space on the ball. The dismissal also paved the way for the most lopsided result of the entire football tournament for the Montreal Games.

Almost immediately after the North Koreans had been reduced to ten men on the pitch, star striker GRZEGORZ LATO of Stal Mielec got his name on the scoresheet for the first time at the ’76 Summer Games and increased the reigning Olympic champion’s lead to three with a goal in the 59th minute of play. The floodgates now completely open, experienced 25-year-old right back ANTONI SZYMANOWSKI of Wislaw Cracow, the Polish Footballer of the Year for 1975, took advantage of the rare opportunity to get involved in the attack and scored a fourth goal for the Poles just five minutes later. A rare strike by Szymanwoski, then, who counted exactly one goal from 81 ‘full’ international appearances for Poland in his career.

Lato, who would later be lauded as the Polish Footballer of the Year for 1976, tacked on his second goal of the match in the 79th minute to formally complete the rout. A heretofore sluggish side had finally found its footballing stride. The thorough 5-0 romp by Poland over North Korea effectively put all the other remaining contestants at the Montreal Games on notice while propelling the defending Olympic gold medalists into the semifinal round.

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Prolific striker ANDRZEJ SZARMACH of Poland, who finished with an impressive 32 goals from 61 ‘full’ international appearances in his career, took over the goal-scoring lead at the 1976 Summer Games with a pair of tallies against North Korea in the lopsided quarterfinal match at the newly-constructed Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada.

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