Poland drops the ball

Polish football fans after disappointing match. PAP/Bartłomiej Zborowski

Poland’s World Cup hopes dashed in deciding match against Colombia.

Poles have a sardonic saying: whenever the Polish national football team takes part in an important international competition, they say the opening game comes first, then the deciding game and, finally, the game of honour. The painful 3-0 defeat with Colombia on Sunday proved the saying had some truth to it, once again. 

The Polish side could actually start packing now, as their adventure with the World Cup in Russia is basically over. Only the final match with Japan remains (how fitting, considering how highly the Japanese value honour) – a sad duty for a team, which already knows they’re not advancing to the knock-out stage.

‘We didn’t lose minimally. We tried, but at this moment we couldn’t do anything more. Many things, not just today but during the whole Cup, didn’t function as they should. We fought, but it wasn’t enough to win when playing at the World Cup. We need to add quality, which we definitely lacked,’ said Robert Lewandowski, the team captain immediately after the match.

The beginning of the match bode well  – the Polish side played aggressively, but without creating scoring opportunities. After 30 minutes, the Colombians quickened the tempo, leading to Yerri Mina heading the ball into the net in the 40th minute. 

The second half of the game was a sad spectacle, with Colombia proving their dominance and quality. Two goals by Radamel Falcao (70’) and Juan Cuadrado (75’) sealed Poland’s fate. The Polish players were powerless and clearly aware of that. The sight of midfielder Kamil Grosicki, a central figure to the team, losing the fight in tears, while still running after the ball, was a heart-breaking scene. 

“We didn’t expect the World Cup to go like this for us. We went to Russia with the hope, that we would manage to achieve something. We felt shock and craved for more even after the first game with Senegal. At that time, we were aware we would need to play better. We could have done more,” commented Wojciech Szczęsny, the goalkeeper.

With Poland out of the way, the situation in group H is still undecided. Both Japan and Senegal have 4 points, while Colombia has 3 and each of the teams has a chance to advance further. On June 28th, Poland will play their final game with Japan in Volgograd, while Colombia will face Senegal in Samara.