Soccer-Poland must stay focused after Slovakia loss, says coach

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Group E - Poland v Slovakia - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia- June 14, 2021 Poland coach Paulo Sousa Pool via REUTERS/Dmitri Lovetsky

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Poland need to be more focused to get the right mindset to win their next two Euro 2020 Group E games, coach Paulo Sousa said on Monday.

Slovakia, outsiders in a group including former world and European champions Spain and Sweden, secured a fourth victory in the last five games against the Poles with a gritty 2-1 win in their opening match of the tournament.

"Some players can play better, but the most disappointing thing was the lack of concentration to make the right decisions - so maybe that what is needed to improve is the mental side, not physical," Sousa told a news conference.

"When we have spaces, (we need) to have much more quality in our crossings, in our decisions, in our passes which give us the chance to score a goal."

Poland failed to spark as Sousa's unfamiliar 4-3-2-1 formation struggled against a compact Slovakian side and leading striker Robert Lewandowski made little impact on the game.

"We missed capacity from our wing players in the first half," Sousa said.

The Poles were reduced to 10 men after Euro 2016 stalwart Grzegorz Krychowiak was sent off for a clumsy challenge, his second yellow card.

"I had a thought of substituting Krychowiak in the half time, but in the end we thought we shouldn't substitute a player with such experience as him," Sousa said.

The coach felt his team did show signs that they will approach the next match against group favourites Spain with the right attitude.

"We had three opportunities to draw the match, for that I think the mentality is there," he said.

"The second part was much braver, that's what we need to be."

Although Poland have now failed to win six out of seven opening games at World Cups or European Championships this century, Sousa said optimism was the key for the game against Spain in Seville on Saturday.

"We need to be positive to get the result," he said.

(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi and Bartosz Dabrowski in Gdansk, editing by Ed Osmond)

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