Expectations of greatness as Lewandowski eyes Ireland

Poland’s coach predicts striker will prove he is world’s best number nine on Sunday

Poland's coach Adam Nawalka has reiterated his belief that "for the time being Robert Lewandowski is the best number nine in the world" in what was concerted show of confidence and optimism in Warsaw's national stadium on Saturday evening.

Despite not being present at Poland's eve of match press conference, the on-fire Lewandowski was still the main topic of conversation as Nawalka, flanked by Arutur Sobiech and Jakub Wawzyrniak, smiled patiently when asked if the Bayern striker and Poland captain is without peer in his position.

“This question I was asked a number of times and I do have to confirm that for the time being Robert Lewandowski is the best number nine in the world. Robert is developing all the time. He makes progress all the time and I do not think there is anyone that can stop him.”

To emphasise the point, Wawzyrniak leaned into the microphone and promised: “And should anyone have doubts we really do believe that tomorrow night Robert will confirm exactly that.”


The two goals which Lewandowksi concocted in Hampden park on Thursday night has only deepened conviction in Warsaw and across the country that Lewandowksi will add to his stunning tally of 12 goals in this campaign. His goals bookended a game which held so much promise for Scotland until he eliminated them from the tournament by scrambling home the ball home from close range. It was the most basic goal he will ever score but given Ireland's heroics against Germany in Dublin, it was vital. And it has disguised the fact that Poland came perilously close to a defeat, something which may have been preying on their minds on the flight home. Nawalka admitted that he was surprised when he heard about Ireland's 1-0 victory over Germany but was careful to frost his response with measured respect.

“Well I have to say that the result was a big surprise for us. But both team represent a high level of football and this is such a difficult group that any result is possible. The Germans possibly had more of the ball possession and more situations but at the end of the day it comes down to the goals scored and in this aspect the Irish team was better which is why we know that tomorrow’s game will be difficult for us.”

"I would not want to compare both teams and say who is the better one because both represent a high level and particularly a high level of discipline which we saw in the first game against Ireland and during the game against Scotland. I have to say the level is really high and this is one if not the most difficult group. Tomorrow we know that we will play a very difficult game but it is a very important game for us and that is why we will have fully concentrated and will try to win the game and we already have a concrete plan for this."

Sobiech remained on the bench against Scotland while Wawzryniak came in for Maciej Rybus in the 62nd minute. The presence of both players suggests they are in line to start against Ireland as Nawalka will have to make several changes due to injuries. Rubus has been ruled out along with midfielder Tomasz Jodlowiec. The chief concern for Poland will be the absence of Arkaduisz Milik, the Ajax Amsterdam striker who will be out for at least a fortnight with a muscle tear.

“It is true that Arkaduisz did really great. He is a phenomenal player but injuries are part of the game and I do believe our players will react correctly to this situation now. I do believe that our players will do everything they can in order to give their best tomorrow which is why I have chosen the best players and I know that the team is ready and that tomorrow we will meet expectations.”

“Yesterday we analysed the game style of our opponent. I have to say we are really well prepared. We know about the strong and weak sides of the Irish team. But in reality we are focussed on our game and on what we have to do. Eventually we have to deliver on the pitch.”

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times