While disappointed and heartbroken to bow out of Euro 2016 on penalties, Poland coach Adam Nawalka preferred to focus on the positives, insisting the team should be proud of their exploits in France.
Poland’s European Championship came to an end in Thursday’s quarter-final clash, beaten 5-3 on spot-kicks after scores were deadlocked at 1-1 following 120 minutes in Marseille.
Robert Lewandowski’s second-minute opener had Nawalka’s men on track until Renato Sanches equalised 12 minutes before the interval, and neither team could be separated in extra time as Jakub Blaszczykowski’s unsuccessful penalty proved Poland’s undoing at the Stade Velodrome.
Despite the shoot-out defeat, Poland managed to exit the tournament unbeaten, having prevailed over Switzerland after extra time in the last 16, following their two wins and a draw in Group C.
“It was a great disappointment for us, for the players – they’ve put a lot of heart into this match, they deserve praise for this match and the whole tournament,” Nawalka said afterwards.
“There was some optimistic things that we will look at – we didn’t lose a single match, we were knocked out on pens but the level and expectations were high.
“We are sad now but that’s normal, there will be time to analyse it but we should be happy for what we have achieved. There are more positives than negatives. That was the first step and now we need to make another step.”
Nawalka added: “We’re still making progress and going forward, this tournament has proven that, both in the group stage and the knockout stage.
“We played very interesting football, we were always trying to improve our play and we look forward with optimism.”
Blaszczykowski was visibly dejected post-match after Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio got down low to his left to push away the decisive penalty as Ricardo Quaresma stepped up to eliminate Poland.
But Nawalka said: “We have seen that the team works as one .There is a team spirit that is our force and it’s still the case. What matters now is the future, we need to look forward and think about what we’ve achieved here, there is no point in being deeply sad about it, it’s just disappointment which is normal after a match like this. Tomorrow the emotions will go down and we we’ll look at it in a more optimistic fashion.”
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