Poland Euro 2016 exit ‘not the end’ for coach Nawalka

Marseille (AFP) – Poland’s heartbreaking Euro 2016 quarter-final exit to Portugal on penalties should not dampen optimism of great things to come, insisted coach Adam Nawalka.

Jakub Blaszczykowski’s spot-kick was saved by Rui Patricio as Portugal prevailed 5-3 in the shootout after Renato Sanches had cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s quickfire opener in Marseille.

Poland were unbeaten in their five games in France and Nawalka believes there is cause to look forward to the World Cup in Russia in two years time with plenty of hope.

“I hope this is the beginning not the end. We are still making progress,” he said.

“This tournament has proven that, both in the group stage and the knockout stage.

“We played very interesting football, we are always trying to improve and we look forward with optimism.”

Lewandowski’s strike barely 100 seconds into the game brought his four-game goal drought to an end.

And Nawalka backed the Bayern Munich star despite him failing to hit the heights of his 42-goal season with the German giants.

“Robert Lewandowski is still and always is an important player for this team, he is the captain, he leads by example on and off the pitch.

“His behaviour is something I can only praise. This was a good tournament for the team and for him.

“I am very happy with the way he acted and behaved and I just want to thank the players for the heart and ambition they showed.

“The fact it looks better and better (for the future) can only make us happy.”

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