Wayward missile hits close to home for Robert Lewandowski’s Poland ahead of World Cup

Wayward missile hits close to home for Robert Lewandowski’s Poland ahead of World Cup

Updated: 16 days, 19 hours, 40 minutes, 29 seconds ago

Doha — Robert Lewandowski said on Friday that Poland's World Cup squad had been left in shock earlier this week after the missile strike in his homeland that left two people dead.

A missile hit the Polish village of Przewodow near the Ukrainian border on Tuesday, killing two people and raising fears of an escalation in the conflict between Ukraine and the invading Russian army.

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Both Warsaw and NATO have said the explosion was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile launched to intercept a massive Russian barrage targeting civilian infrastructure.

Lewandowski and his teammates were in Warsaw at the time preparing for a friendly the next day against Chile ahead of the Qatar extravaganza.

"It was not an easy moment, everyone was waiting for explanations, for some information," said the Barcelona forward, speaking from Poland's training base in Doha.

"Unfortunately it hit people who died. This is definitely a very difficult situation."

Lewandowski said concerns eased after indications the missile strike was not a direct attack by Russia.

"After it got clearer what happened, we were a little bit calmer... and at the same time we had to refocus on what we are doing," said the 34 year old, one of the most feared strikers in the world.

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"I hope it is a one-time occurrence... and that it won't happen again."

Marked man

Poland launch their World Cup campaign against Mexico on Tuesday at the 974 stadium.

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They also face Saudi Arabia and Group C favourites Argentina, who are unbeaten in 36 matches.

Poland expect goal-machine Lewandowski, who has scored 76 goals in 134 matches for the national team, to be a marked man in Doha, but the striker says this could work to the team's advantage.

"I'm ready for opponents to be more focused on me. In the game, defenders will stick to me," said Lewandowski, who has already banged in 18 goals in 19 matches for Barca this season.

"Other players will use the fact that I go to the side and take two players with me. There will be more free space for them to enter."

He added: "This might also be our strength, to be able to use those free areas on the pitch created by opponents being too focused on me."

This will be Lewandowski's second World Cup, but he refused to speculate about whether or not it would be his last.

"We have not started the World Cup yet and already I'm supposed to speak about the end of it," he quipped.

"I don't know if it's going to be my last World Cup, but I'm preparing as if it might be my last."

Lewandowski failed to score in any of Poland's three group games in Russia four years ago, but he said he is not fretting over breaking his World Cup scoring duck.

"If we as a team create more situations for scoring opportunities, then I and the other strikers will have more opportunities to score," he told reporters at Poland's training centre.

"Whoever scores is not important, but the team and victory is what's most important."

AFP

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