Poland's coach Czeslaw Michniewicz watches his players from the touchline during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 in Doha on Nov 22, 2022. (MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)
DOHA - Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz felt for his star player Robert Lewandowski who failed to convert a penalty in their 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday but believes the experienced striker will come good at the World Cup.
Lewandowski missed a penalty - and his chance to finally claim a World Cup tournament goal - in a match that left Saudi Arabia as the early leaders of Group C after their shock win over Argentina.
Poland and Lewandowski will bid for their first World Cup goal in the next game against Saudi Arabia on Saturday
"These things happen," Michniewicz told a news conference.
"Great players haven't been scoring at great tournaments for as long I can remember. Zico, Socrates, Platini, Maradona - from those championships I remember - but also many other great footballers."
This seems of little consolation, however, as the 34-year-old Lewandowski, likely playing at his second and last World Cup, missed one of his best chances to score on football's biggest stage.
"You could see he was feeling down about the situation, it was all fresh," Michniewicz said.
"We had a screen in the dressing-room that showed replays from the match and, among other situations, the penalty kick. Robert looked at it, analysed it.
"I told him I felt very sorry for him, because I know what a captain feels when he doesn't score in a match that doesn't end in a win."
"The decision was to strike to the side," he told TVP Sport. "Today it didn't work out, so it hurts, but we have to look to the next match - to win and get three points.
"It was an even match. We will respect this point, but on the other hand it's a shame, because we had a penalty kick. At this point it hurts."
The Barcelona striker had practised his penalties on the eve of the game.
"He took them against our goalkeepers and all the spot-kicks went in," Michniewicz said.
"I think he himself has to digest it ... He will know best how to handle this situation. I as a coach, we as a team will support him but I know that he will still help us a lot in this tournament.
"I hope that in the next opportunities that lie ahead of him he will convert them into goals."
Poland and Lewandowski will bid for their first World Cup goal in the next game against Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
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