fifa15guide | Robert Lewandowski on Poland exit: Clearly not enough quality to contend

With the second round of Group H games in the books, the Kwese Sports panel examine the three-horse race between Colombia, Senegal and Japan.
Harry Kane and England scored early and often, Japan cancelled out Sadio Mane and Senegal and James Rodriguez added to his impressive World Cup resume.
Following Colombia’s convincing 3-0 win over Poland, the FC crew assess Los Cafeteros’ chances of beating Japan and advancing to the round of 16.

Robert Lewandowski said after Poland were eliminated from the World Cup with a 3-0 defeat to Colombia that his side lacked the quality needed to progress, admitting “it’s not like we lost by a whisker.”

Poland entered the World Cup ranked highest of the four teams in Group H at eighth but ended up being the first team out of contention for the knockouts with a lacklustre performance in their first two matches.

After two defensive lapses against Senegal led to a 2-1 defeat in their opener, the Poles looked second-best by miles all night against Colombia and talismanic striker Lewandowski summed it up with his nonchalant comments after the defeat to Los Cafeteros at the Kazan Arena.

“Maybe that’s all we could do. Let’s be frank, it’s not like we lost by a whisker. So we fought, we tried to do our best, but at the moment we could not do anything more,” the prolific Bayern Munich striker told Polish TV.

“Many things did not go as they should today, during this World Cup… I was alone, we fought, I fought, I did everything I could, but fighting is not enough to win World Cup matches, you also have to have quality, and we had too little of that.”

Poland led their qualifying group almost from start to finish, finishing with eight wins, one draw and a defeat with Lewandowski leading Europe’s qualifying campaign with 16 of the side’s 28 goals.

Their offensive play on Sunday appeared limited to launching long balls towards Lewandowski, who often had to fall back in the hope of receiving more service.

Colombia did well to shut down the striker with two players always close on his heels, and Poland did not have the quality or the skill to switch their tactics.

“Tonight practically we used all our forces that were available when it comes to our offensive playing,” Poland coach Adam Nawalka told reporters. “We tried to attack but there was no fluid play.

“Unfortunately we were not efficient and effective. The opposing team were better in terms of quality and ball possession.”

Colombia’s opening goal in the 40th minute forced Poland to be more offensive, and it ended up providing more space for the free-flowing Latin Americans. The second and third goals came in the space of five minutes for Colombia.

“We know that we were trying to cover the opposing players but step by step we tried to play even more offensively,” Nawalka said. “It was clear there was more and more free space for the Colombian team, and they really put it to good use and that’s why they won.”

fifa15guide | Mohamed Salah considering quitting Egypt team over Ramzan Kadyrov row — sources

World Cup: Mohamed Salah penalty (73′) Russia 3-1 Egypt
After Russia’s big win over Egypt, the FC crew assess what’s going right for the hosts and reflect on Egypt’s choice to rest Mo Salah vs. Uruguay.
Don Hutchison and Leroy Rosenior comment on Mo Salah’s perfomance after Egypt lost 3 – 1 against Russia

Mohamed Salah is considering his international future with Egypt, a source has confirmed to ESPN FC, because of his unhappiness about being drawn into a political row during his stay in Chechnya with his national team during the World Cup.

CNN first reported on Sunday that the Liverpool forward was deciding whether to return to the Egypt team after the World Cup. 

Before the tournament began, Salah was pictured alongside Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen Republic, at Egypt’s base in Grozny. Kadyrov declared Salah to be an honorary citizen of Chechnya in a ceremony with the player.

“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic! That’s right!” Kadyrov wrote in a social media post. “I gave Mohamed Salah a copy of the order and a pin at a celebratory dinner that I gave in honour of the Egyptian team.”

Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya since 2004, is a controversial figure on the global stage because of his hard-line rule over his people and a series of contentious comments, particularly against the gay community.

CNN reported that Salah was uncomfortable with the criticism that followed the photo and is unwilling to being used as a political pawn. A source with knowledge of Salah’s position on the matter confirmed this stance to ESPN FC, adding that the player is now considering his future with his national team.

The Egyptian FA later on Sunday tried to play down the reports, insisting Salah was still happy, saying: “Reports that Salah wants to leave are completely wrong.”

“Mo is still with us now and he is happy in the camp. He is eating and laughing with his teammates. He is training well and that means no problem.”

The Chechen controversy is the latest that Salah has experienced while on international duty, with the forward winning a battle against the Egyptian FA in April over the use of his image rights.

Salah, who was forced to miss Egypt’s opening defeat against Uruguay as a result of the shoulder injury he suffered in last month’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, is still expected to play for Egypt in their Group A finale with Saudi Arabia on Monday before flying home and embarking on a summer break. Egypt have no chance of advancing to the World Cup knockout stage.

Whether Salah ever plays for Egypt again will now be under consideration as a result of the events in Chechnya during the tournament.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_