Fernando Santos has been appointed Poland head coach until 2026 following the end of his tenure with Portugal.

Santos, 68, was in charge of the Selecao for over eight years and guided them to success at Euro 2016 and the inaugural Nations League in 2019.

Despite those trophies, Portugal fans had become frustrated with the style of football Santos' team played in recent years, with there being a perception of him underachieving given the wealth of talent at his disposal.

Santos' Portugal contract was not due to expire until after Euro 2024, but he was removed from his role after the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Morocco last month.

Roberto Martinez has since replaced him.

Santos has not wasted much time in taking a new job either, however, with Poland his third international position in succession after also coaching Greece for four years prior to taking over Portugal.

He will be only Poland's third non-native head coach after Portuguese compatriot Paulo Sousa, who had a brief spell in charge in 2021, and Leo Beenhakker.

Polish Football Association (PZPN) president Cezary Kulesza had essentially confirmed the hiring on Monday when he posted a photo of himself with Santos, the caption announcing a press conference for the following day.

Santos' first goal will be to secure Poland's qualification for a fourth successive appearance at the European Championship, with the 2024 edition to take place in neighbouring Germany.

He will then be tasked with leading Poland to the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States, after which his contract is due to end.

Robert Lewandowski is "not scared" of playing at another World Cup, but the Poland captain acknowledged his side would need a change in tactics.

The forward saw his side beaten 3-1 by France in their last-16 tie, bowing out of Qatar 2022 after a frustrating campaign that saw them struggle in the group stages too.

Having come to this tournament without a World Cup goal in his career, Lewandowski added his second goal of the tournament from the penalty spot late on against Les Bleus.

But when asked if he would still be in the frame to feature at the 2026 edition in just under four years – by which time he will be 37 years old – the veteran Barcelona frontman would not commit.

"Physically, I'm not scared of it," he said. "But there are so many things to manage first. It's hard to say now. Athletically, it doesn't scare me, but there are still a lot of uncertainties."

Lewandowski hinted a shift away from the defence-orientated performances Poland displayed in Qatar may be needed.

"It's still a long way to go and, obviously, you need to enjoy the game," he said. "If we attack, try to attack, it's a bit different. But if we play defensively, there's no joy."

Poland were always the underdogs against a France team who, even with several key stars missing through injury, have emerged among the favourites to land the title they won four years ago.

Lewandowski concedes his side were always going to have a struggle on their hands, adding: "It is a difficult match, to play against France.

"We fought and we tried to do our best. We played very, very well in the first half, with a few chances. Maybe if we scored the first goal, it would have been a different game.

"Unfortunately, we conceded a goal in the last minute of the first half. It's always difficult to come back from that. We reacted well, we pushed to come back. We can be proud because we tried everything."

Kylian Mbappe is not concerned by either the Golden Ball or the Golden Boot at Qatar 2022, targeting only a second World Cup win with France.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is a leading contender for the award given to the tournament's best player and the prize that goes to its leading scorer.

Mbappe scored twice in Sunday's 3-1 win over Poland to send France through to the quarter-finals and open up a lead in the Golden Boot race, having now netted five – two ahead of his nearest rival.

But the forward's sole focus was on a positive result for France, rather than worrying about any individual honours at the end of the World Cup.

"To be honest, no," Mbappe said, when asked if he was aiming to win the Golden Ball. "The only objective for me is to win the World Cup. Now to win the next game, the quarter-final is the most important thing.

"That's what I dream. The only thing I dream is to win the World Cup. I didn't dream to win the Golden Ball or the Golden Boot.

"If I get it, I will take it, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to win and to help the French national team."

Mbappe was meeting the media for the first time at this tournament, and he explained this was a deliberate decision to ensure he was in the best possible shape to lead France to glory.

"I wanted to take the floor because people have been asking about why I haven't appeared before the media," he said. "It was nothing personal; I just needed to focus on the tournament, on my football.

"When I want to concentrate, that's how I function. That's why I didn't speak to you before now.

"I was told I would be fined, but I wanted to pay the fine myself. The federation shouldn't pay the fine.

"This is the competition of my dreams. I am delighted to be here. I have been preparing for this tournament throughout the season, both physically and mentally. I wanted to be ready for this tournament, and I am.

"It has been good so far, but we're a long way from the objective, which is to win the final."

Kylian Mbappe did not perform at his best against Poland despite a second-half brace that helped fire France into the quarter-finals, Didier Deschamps said.

With five goals in Qatar, Mbappe's career tally at the World Cup is now at nine at the age of 23, with only Just Fontaine (13) scoring more for France at the tournament – all of which came in the 1958 World Cup.

Despite his goalscoring exploits, Deschamps stated his belief Mbappe did not have his best performance.

"We know about Kylian. We've already seen him. He speaks on the football pitch," the coach said in the post-match press conference.

"He didn't have his best match tonight, I don't want to accuse him of anything, and he knows that himself. But he can change a match in a moment.

"He's playing with such joy. We want to share those smiles with him. France needed a great Kylian Mbappe tonight, and they got one."

The Paris Saint-Germain striker will share the headlines with Olivier Giroud, who opened the scoring against Poland to become his nation's all-time leading scorer with 52 goals – surpassing Thierry Henry's tally that had stood since 2009.

Giroud was a key member of France's squad in Russia in 2018, although he failed to score and now boasts four goals in Qatar, an impressive return considering he would likely have played a reduced role had Karim Benzema remained fit.

Deschamps hailed Giroud's efforts and impact but acknowledged he may well be surpassed by Mbappe further down the line. The France number 10 already has 33 international goals.

"Olivier has always been an important player. Four years ago he didn't score, but he was a very important player for us," Deschamps said. "There were difficult periods for him in his career.

"Today we're seeing his quality. He's often criticised but has managed to remain strong, mentally strong. It was a very difficult record, because it was Thierry Henry before him.

"There's a guy next to me [Mbappe] who might break it one day. To score so many goals at international level is an incredible achievement."

Poland head coach Czeslaw Michniewicz can understand frustration around Robert Lewandowski's role after the team's World Cup exit.

A 3-1 defeat to France in the round of 16 on Sunday meant the end for Poland in Qatar, who went down to goals from Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice. Lewandowski netted a consolation penalty in stoppage time at Al Thumama Stadium.

This was Poland's first match in the knockout stage of a World Cup since 1986, when they lost 4-0 to Brazil in the round of 16.

Speaking at a press conference after the defeat, Michniewicz accentuated the positive of his team reaching the last-16 stage for the first time in 36 years, even though he was disappointed by the result.

"Unfortunately, this tournament is over for us. After 36 years, we reached the knockout stage but faced the current world champions. Congratulations to France," he said.

"We had good situations at 0-0 and I think many things changed before the break with [Giroud's 44th-minute] goal, the French became calmer and we became nervous.

"We knew we could still recover, we made some changes on the hour, another forward came on [Arkadiusz Milik] and had moments where we could score. [But then] Mbappe scored fantastically and not even Wojciech [Szczesny] could help us on this occasion, even though he had an excellent tournament.

"After some weeks and months I think we will be able to be look back and appreciate that we achieved something here we have not done in 36 years."

 

 

Michniewicz would not speak on his own future, with his contract reportedly up at the end of the tournament, and was also asked about 34-year-old Lewandowski, who scored his first two World Cup goals in Qatar but largely cut an isolated figure during Poland's campaign.

"He will decide his future himself," the coach said. "Looking at the way he is playing, I think he will be captain for years. Let's see if he'll play at the next World Cup.

"Expectations are always huge and the same is for Lewandowski. His situation is difficult. The style of Portugal or France is more beneficial for the forwards. We have a different style, we have some limitations and need to focus on others and close the gap of levels against [Lionel] Messi, Mbappe and other strikers."

He added of the Barcelona forward: "It is a difficult situation for Lewandowski, but I still think he will always score for the national team."

Mbappe was in electric form, becoming the youngest player to reach five knockout stage goals at the World Cup since Pele in 1958, and Michniewicz heaped praise on the rapid attacker.

"You don't have to be a coach to know what the biggest strength of France is, we always wanted to have two players on [Ousmane] Dembele and Mbappe," the Poland boss said.

"Giroud is so smart in the penalty area that he so often scores from the middle of the goal after work from the wingers. We were ready for that, but no coach has a recipe to stop Mbappe in the form he is in.

"A fantastic player, he harmed us today. I think he will be the one to take over as the best in the world for many years."

Olivier Giroud pledged to put his record-breaking 52nd France goal behind him after helping Les Bleus reach the World Cup quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Poland.

Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's tally of 51 France goals by scoring twice against Australia in his side's World Cup opener last month, and he went one better by opening the scoring with a neat finish at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe then scored two outstanding goals as France maintained their record of advancing from all of their last-16 World Cup ties, with this sixth such win teeing up a meeting with England or Senegal.

Asked about his record-breaking strike by TF1, Giroud said he was simply relieved to have ended conversations about when his historic goal would arrive.

"My wife and my children were there, plus my childhood friend. It's a childhood dream to beat Thierry Henry like that," Giroud said.

"A lot of people told me it was coming, now I put it behind me and my obsession is to go as far as possible with the team.

"I was a little frustrated not to have been able to capitalise on one or two crosses that we made at the start of the match, so I really wanted to score this goal, just to stop talking about it!"

 

The victory means France remain on course to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil did so in 1962, while Les Bleus have only lost one of their seven knockout games at the tournament under Didier Deschamps.

France lost several key players – including Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante – to injury ahead of the tournament, and Giroud believes strong team spirit has helped them cope.

"The adventure continues. We said to ourselves in the locker room that to live a magnificent experience together, we had to be united and be one," Giroud said.

"We were able to find the right words in the locker room, we have a great group of friends, it shows on the field. This team is rewarded for its efforts."

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot concurred, adding: "It makes me happy, you have to leave the pitch without regret, that's what I try to do at every match, as long as it lasts. 

"Above all, we must insist on solidarity and unity in this team, that's what makes us strong. If we continue like this, we can do great things."

Kylian Mbappe matched a 64-year World Cup record set by Brazil great Pele after bagging a brace in France's 3-1 victory over Poland in Sunday's last-16 tie.

On the day team-mate Olivier Giroud passed Thierry Henry to become France's all-time top goalscorer, team-mate Mbappe continued to burnish his own legacy.

With his two goals – both excellent strikes delivered with poise through a strained Polish defence – Mbappe has further written his name into World Cup history at Qatar 2022.

He now has five goals in the knockout stages of the competition, when factoring in the three he netted for the tournament winners at Russia 2018.

At 23 years and 349 days, it makes him the youngest player to reach that number after Brazil legend Pele, who bagged as many during the Selecao's victorious Sweden 1958 campaign, aged 17 years and 249 days.

 

Mbappe now moves to nine goals in all World Cup fixtures, pulling him one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be in action with Portugal against Switzerland on Tuesday.

It also sees him match Lionel Messi, who nabbed his first-ever knockout goal at the competition during Argentina's 2-1 win over Australia on Saturday.

With just a four-goal gap to Just Fontaine's France competition record of 13, Mbappe could conceivably catch his compatriot during the rest of his stay in Qatar, though he remains seven off Miroslav Klose's all-time record of 16.

Olivier Giroud scored his 52nd goal for France to become his country’s all-time top scorer and Kylian Mbappe added two more as they beat Poland 3-1 in the World Cup round of 16 on Sunday.

Giroud's 44th-minute strike at Al Thumama Stadium put him ahead of fellow former Arsenal and Les Bleus forward Thierry Henry for France.

Mbappe doubled the advantage for Didier Deschamps' men and added another before full-time to move two goals clear as the tournament's top scorer in Qatar.

Poland had earlier put up a fight against the reigning world champions and scored a last-kick consolation after Robert Lewandoski converted a retaken penalty.

A bright start from France was low on clear chances, though Giroud should have had his goal earlier but could not divert Ousmane Dembele's low cross from the right into the net.

Poland had opportunities of their own in the first half and were somehow denied in the 38th minute when Bartosz Bereszynski's cut-back from the left found Piotr Zielinski, who hit his shot straight at Hugo Lloris, before his follow-up was also blocked and then Jakub Kaminski saw his effort stopped by Raphael Varane.

Giroud had his moment just before the break when some neat passing around the box led to Mbappe playing a quick pass into the striker, who finished well past former Arsenal team-mate Wojciech Szczesny.

The 36-year-old had the ball in the net again just before the hour with a spectacular overhead kick, but the whistle had already gone for a foul on Szczesny.

Mbappe struck with 16 minutes remaining to ultimately seal the win, with nice work again from Giroud leading to Dembele finding Mbappe to the left of the penalty area, before the Paris Saint-Germain star curled the ball high past Szczesny into the near post.

The Golden Boot leader put the game beyond doubt in stoppage time, again receiving the ball to the left of the penalty area before placing it expertly into the top-right corner of the net.

Poland were awarded a last-minute penalty after a VAR check for handball against Dayot Upamecano, and despite seeing his first effort saved by Hugo Lloris, Lewandowski sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with his second attempt after Lloris was found to be off his line for the first.

Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz has “yet to find any weaknesses” in the France team ahead of their last-16 clash at the World Cup on Sunday.

Les Bleus are the defending champions and overwhelming favourites to advance to the quarter-finals, but Michniewicz is hoping hard work can overcome any technical deficiencies.

He said of France: "I have been looking, but I have yet to find any weaknesses. We need to pressure them otherwise they won’t make mistakes. We have analysed them and focused on their style of play.

"They have a wonderful team, a great coach and a nice mix of experienced and young players.”

Poland have been criticised for a defensive approach in Qatar but Michniewicz believes now qualification to the knockout phase has been secured, they can release the shackles.

"The teams that haven’t defended well are already at home and watching on television," he added. "That was our strategy to get through the group phase and now we want to play differently.

"But football is about winning trophies, you cannot let the opponent score easily. Those that do aren’t here any more. We have defended well and therefore we get the chance to play France."

Key to that new, bolder strategy will be getting better service to striker Robert Lewandowski.

"We have had issues offensively," admitted Michniewicz. "We have not been accurate enough in our passing, and we haven’t created enough opportunities for Robert. We need to get the ball to him nearer the penalty box."

France’s main attacking threat will come from Kylian Mbappe. And Arkadiusz Milik, who played against the Paris Saint-Germain star during his time in Ligue 1 with Marseille, is planning special measures to keep him quiet.

“We need a scooter to catch him because he is so fast," he said. "It’s difficult to play against him because he’s one of the best players in the world, we’ll need to play collectively and have co-operation in the team because no one individual is able to stop him."

Didier Deschamps warned France must not underestimate Poland when they meet in the World Cup round of 16 on Sunday.

Les Bleus have won all five last-16 matches since the stage was introduced to the tournament back in 1986.

The holders are strong favourites to knock the Eagles out at Al Thumama Stadium this weekend in what will be the underdogs' first knockout World Cup knockout game for 36 years.

France are unbeaten in their past seven meetings with Poland, but Deschamps says there can be no complacency from his side in Doha.

"It's not a team we're used to meeting," he told FFF TV. "They have experienced players. Obviously, if there is one name to stand out, it's [Robert] Lewandowski, he's one of the best strikers in the world.

"But it's not just him, it's a team that has good organisation, a good athletic presence. We have three observers here who are following them closely, we will have all the details. Don't underestimate this team."

Deschamps rung the changes for France's final Group D match on Wednesday, which they surprisingly lost 1-0 to Tunisia.

Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Hugo Lloris, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were among the players who dropped to the bench for that loss.

Poland will need to find a way of containing Mbappe, the joint-leading scorer in the tournament with three goals, while Giroud is one shy of becoming his country's all-time leading goalscorer as he currently stands level with Thierry Henry on 51.

The Eagles were beaten 2-0 by Argentina in their last Group C game on Wednesday but took second place.

Poland have faced the reigning champions twice in World Cup matches, beating Brazil 1-0 in 1974 and holding Germany to a goalless draw four years later.

A quarter-final showdown with England or Senegal will be the reward for whoever comes out on top.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

France - Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann continues to deliver for France time and time again. No player has created more chances than the 11 he has produced for Les Blues in this tournament.

The Atletico Madrid forward is the only player to create at least 10 chances in both this World Cup and Russia 2018 for France. He has already surpassed his total of 10 four years ago.

Poland - Wojciech Szczesny

Goalkeeper Szczesny has played a key role for Poland in Qatar, achieving a save percentage of 90. He had kept out each of his first 16 shots on target faced in the tournament prior to Alexis Mac Allister's goal for Argentina.

Szczesny saved a Lionel Messi penalty in midweek, ensuring he has stopped a spot-kick in each of his past two World Cup games. He could be in for a busy game, given France's quality going forward.

PREDICTION

While there have been shock results aplenty in this tournament, France will not be expected to slip up when they attempt to seal a place in the last eight.

Stats Perform's AI model gives the defending champions a 74.8 per cent chance of going through, with Poland at only 8.1 per cent to produce an upset.

Hugo Lloris says personal milestones will be put to one side as he attempts to help France into the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

Les Bleus meet Poland in a last-16 clash in Doha that will see Lloris equal Lilian Thuram's record of 142 caps for France.

It represents a landmark moment for the Tottenham goalkeeper, who made his international debut against Uruguay 14 years ago, but he was quick to train his focus on securing victory for his country at Al Thumama Stadium.

"It's quite something and I am very honoured to reach that figure and that number of caps, but it's a day before a last-16 game, so that [the record] is of course secondary," he said.

"The World Cup is the most important thing and I am 100 per cent focused on tomorrow's game. It's going to be a battle and we will all need to be 100 per cent focused.

"I will appreciate reaching that record once the tournament is over."

The main threat to Lloris' hopes of celebrating his achievement with a clean sheet is Poland striker Robert Lewandowski. The Barcelona star finally broke his World Cup duck in the group stage and appears to be growing into the tournament.

Lloris added: "Lewandowski is one of the best number nines in the world and has been for some time now. He's an important player for Poland but we are facing a team that defends well, that works hard, and then you have Lewandowski up front and he is clinical.

"Also, they have Wojciech Szczesny, who has played a magical tournament in goal.

"Poland deserve to be here. We have been trying to analyse their matches to see what type of game we will be facing. There's also a mental element that comes in at this stage so we will have to be ready."

The knockout phase could see matches decided by penalty shoot-outs and, although Lloris will do his homework, the 35-year-old concedes it may come down to luck.

"We have all the tools at our disposal to analyse penalty taking but there is always a bit of chance," he said. "You can study what has happened before and then the penalty taker does the opposite of what you're expecting.

"You can prepare but there's always an element of instinct that comes into play. If the penalty is well taken you have little chance of saving it."

It was a shoot-out that accounted for France at the European Championship last year, Les Bleus going down 5-4 to Switzerland after a pulsating 3-3 last-16 draw in Bucharest.

That was a painful afternoon for the world champions and coach Didier Deschamps was not keen to spend too long reminiscing.

"We don't talk about the past," he said. "I don't think it's worth it, especially a match that we've lost. Now we are facing another round of 16 game but it's not the same opponent.

"We try to approach each match in a similar way. The group phase games were all difficult and now we have the best 16 teams in the world, even if you might not think so on paper. The games are getting tougher and we are going to have to be at our best."

Lionel Messi says Diego Maradona would be "super happy" after he overtook the late Argentina great as his country's most capped player at a World Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi played a full part in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Poland that secured Argentina top spot in Group C and a last-16 tie with Australia.

Messi, who had a penalty saved by Wojciech Szczesny with the game level, was making his 22nd appearance in the competition – one more than his former coach Maradona.

"I only learned about this record recently," Messi said when told about his latest achievement. "It's a pleasure to be able to continue achieving these kinds of records.

"I think Diego would be super happy for me because he's always showed me a lot of affection. He was always happy when things went well for me."

Messi could yet take another record from Maradona, as the 63 chances he has created at World Cups in recorded history is second only to his compatriot, who created 67.

The 35-year-old's blank against Poland came on the back of netting in the shock 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia and 2-0 win over Mexico in Argentina's opening two games in Qatar.

The seven shots he amassed against Poland is his highest tally without scoring in a match for Argentina since a 1-1 draw with Iceland at the 2018 World Cup (11).

 

Second-half goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez ensured Argentina secured the win they needed, though, and they are now strong favourites to overcome Australia.

"After the first goal, everything went our way," said Messi, who was part of the Argentina squad that finished runners-up to Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

"We started doing again what we had been trying to do since the start of the World Cup, but which we hadn't been able to achieve for various reasons.

"Having been able to do it today, it gives us confidence for the future."

Messi will be looking to score in the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time on Saturday, with all eight of his previous goals coming in the group stage.

He has had 23 efforts without finding the net beyond the first round, though he did assist in the last 16 in each of the 2010, 2014 and 2018 editions.

Wojciech Szczesny made a bet with Lionel Messi during Poland's World Cup clash against Argentina that the referee would not award a penalty, the goalkeeper has revealed.

The Juventus stopper denied Messi from the spot in the first half of Poland's 2-0 defeat in Group C following a controversial decision, where Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot after watching the incident following VAR advice.

Szczesny was among those convinced that it should not have been a penalty, even going as far as to make a bet with Messi during the delay of the game – though he has no intention of paying up.

"We spoke before the penalty. I told him I can bet him €100 that he [the referee] wasn't going to give it. So, I've lost a bet against Messi," he said after the match.

"I don't know if that's allowed at the World Cup and I'm probably going to get banned for it but I don't care right now. And I'm not going to pay him either! He doesn't care about €100, come on."

Szczesny's denial of Messi from the spot saw the Polish stopper become only the third goalkeeper to save two penalties at a single World Cup tournament, excluding shoot-outs, having kept out Saudi Arabia's Salem Al Dawsari in the previous round of fixtures.

His celebrations were muted, however, due to the tight contest in Group C to advance to the knockout stage – with Poland only advancing ahead of Mexico on goal difference.

"Yeah it was nice, I didn't know at the time it was going to help us get through so I tried not to celebrate," he added.

"But I've had some bad luck at the big tournaments so far, the World Cup four years ago was awful for me and I owed this much to the team and in the last two games I managed to help them a little bit."

Poland will face defending champions France at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday in the nation's first appearance in the knockout stage since 1986.

Czeslaw Michniewicz defended Robert Lewandowski's display after Poland inched into the World Cup's last 16 despite losing to Argentina in Wednesday's dramatic Group C finale.

Goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez ensured Argentina recovered from Lionel Messi's first-half penalty miss to top Group C, leaving Poland glancing nervously at Mexico's fixture against Saudi Arabia.

Poland were set to beat Mexico to second place due to their disciplinary record for much of the second half, but Saudi Arabia's late consolation in a 2-1 defeat ensured El Tri exited the tournament on goal difference.

Despite Poland advancing from their World Cup group for the first time since 1986, Lewandowski was criticised after failing to record a single shot in the match, but Michniewicz believes he was hamstrung by a lack of service.

"He was very much involved and committed, I'm not attacking anyone from our team, but we didn't help him," Michniewicz said.

"If our team would have had the higher percentage of possession, if Messi played with us and Robert with them, I'm convinced Robert scores five.

"Robert needs conditions, he needs to be assisted, and he was acting in our half. There were so many players covering him. 

"He's a great player and there were several one on ones. Messi didn't score, did he? That's all. 

"I think we're expecting Robert to score. He wanted to but we didn't have the opportunity for that."

Before Salem Al Dawsari reduced the arrears for Saudi Arabia, Poland held a narrow disciplinary advantage over Mexico – picking up five yellow cards across their group games to El Tri's seven.

Asked whether he told his team to concentrate on avoiding bookings late on, Michniewicz added: "I said to avoid stupid cards. 

"We were also discussing it on the bench, we were afraid one of the players would get a card and then we wouldn't go through. 

"Cards from the bench weren't going to count, we were told, but we were doing everything possible to avoid provocation."

While Poland failed to record a shot on target during a meek performance, Michniewicz was visibly irked by criticism of his side, choosing to relish their qualification after failed group-stage campaigns in 2002, 2006 and 2018.

"We got promoted after so many years, we played this difficult group. Let's enjoy. We still have until Sunday to criticise," he said. "Were you watching the match? What can I say? We've lost, it wasn't nice football, but it's bittersweet."

Eager to call time on his media duties, Michniewicz added: "It's really late, the prime minister is calling and I can't answer!"

Poland will now face world champions France for a quarter-final spot at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday, while Argentina will take on Australia on Saturday.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is unimpressed by the quick turnaround between Wednesday's 2-0 win over Poland and their World Cup last-16 date with Australia.

La Albiceleste won 2-0 at Stadium 974 to top Group E and secure progression to the next round, an outcome that appeared in real doubt after their defeat to Saudi Arabia on matchday one.

Lionel Messi saw a penalty saved by Wojciech Szczesny in the first half, but goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez after the break deservedly put Argentina into the last 16.

Awaiting them are Australia, who earlier in the day beat Denmark to somewhat surprisingly reach the knockout stages.

Argentina will be firm favourites, but Scaloni is annoyed by what he feels is a quick turnaround until the game, which is scheduled for Saturday's late kick-off slot.

"Today we are happy but not euphoric, because I think it's crazy we are playing in just over two days," he told reporters after the game.

"I can't really understand this. It's almost 1am, tomorrow is Thursday. We could have had more rest. 

"I want to make it clear that it doesn't seem right to me that we have just two and a half days of rest after being first in the group. These conditions aren't great."

Nevertheless, many associated with Argentina will just be happy they made it as far as the second round after that shock loss to Saudi Arabia.

Argentina needed to beat Poland to take matters into their own hands, and Scaloni was pleased with how his team managed the expectation.

"We are satisfied with the game we played, it was not easy and neither was the context around the game," he added.

"We had to play and win against a team that had two results in mind. I think we interpreted it correctly, the players played a very good game and we are happy."

Similarly, most will expect Argentina to cruise past the Socceroos at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, but Scaloni is keen to avoid that kind of arrogance.

"We played a good game and we have to continue. We are not candidates or favourites, we are still the same," he continued. 

"We are a difficult team and we are going to fight. It is totally wrong to think that we are going to be champions by winning today.

,"All teams are very tough, like I always said, Saudi Arabia is a great team. Football is football. 

"You can play well and lose, that's the feeling I had after Saudi Arabia. Maybe we didn't play well but we deserved to win.

"All matches are tough and now, if you think the Australia match will be easy, you are wrong. They have shown they are tough. When you play in a World Cup and represent your country, you grow."

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