This defeat hurts - Poland Coach.
Coach Adam Nawalka says Poland's tenure at Euro 2016 will help them build for the future, but he admitted that their quarterfinal defeat to Portugal on penalties was painful.
Poland got through the group stage with wins over Northern Ireland and Ukraine and a credible draw against Germany before beating Switzerland on penalties in the round of 16.
But after playing Portugal to a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes, Jakub Blaszczykowski's penalty was saved and Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. advanced despite not winning any of their five games in 90 minutes.
At the same time, Poland are eliminated without losing a game in regulation time, Nawalka pointed out.
"It's definitely a tough moment for us. The players put a lot of heart into this match and played bravely throughout this tournament," he said.
"We haven't lost a match at the tournament -- we were knocked out on penalties. We have to look with optimism to the future and the European [World Cup] qualifiers. There will be soon be time for detailed analysis but this defeat hurts.
"We've moved forward -- this tournament has proven that. We were very good in both the group and knockout stages. We played some very good football. We're always trying to improve and that will be the case going into the future.
"The team works as one. The team spirit was our driving force here. We need to think about what we've achieved here and continue to move forward. There's no need to grieve for too long -- it's just a disappointment. I'm sure in time we'll look at this with more optimism.
One bright spot for the future came when Robert Lewandowski ended his 644-minute drought with his early goal, and Nawalka continued to back his star striker.
"Robert Lewandowski is still and always will be a huge player for this team. He's the captain, he motivates players on the pitch and off the pitch. His behaviour is something that I can only praise," Nawalka said.
"It was a good tournament for the team but also for Robert Lewandowski. I'm very happy with the way he played. I want to thank all the players for the heart and ambition they showed in all our matches. We can only be happy."
Nawalka said that he believed Poland would not be able to sneak up on their opponents anymore following their fine performances in France.
"Hopefully these championships prove to be the beginning of a wonderful era for Polish football but we're going to stay cool," he said.
"We know that our opponents will play differently against us now and if we want to play a major role in international football, we will have to be prepared."