Wroclaw: The fear of conceding a goal was what ultimately cost co-hosts Poland a place in the quarter-finals, their coach Franciszek Smuda said after they crashed out of Euro 2012 on Saturday.
Poland needed to beat the Czech Republic to stay in the competition but fell to Petr Jiracek's 72nd minute strike in a 1-0 defeat which saw the winners top the group.
It means the Poles have never won a game at the European Championships and never yet made it beyond the group stages.
They dominated the first half but failed to turn possession and pressure into goals and were punished after the break in a limp second half showing.
"I liked the first half, how we started and how we got involved, we can't belittle this," said Smuda.
"After half-time we were too calm and we waited for the Czechs as if we were afraid to concede a goal, and this is when you concede a goal.
"The Czechs really played very good football, especially in the second half.
"They attacked and pressed and they were better than us at this. We wanted to counter but the Czechs sat back and stopped all our counters."
Smuda revealed after the match that his contract was up and that he would be leaving the post.
However, he suggested that a better performance would have seen him offered a new deal.
"I don't have to resign because my contract was only until the end of this tournament," said Smuda.
"I had a verbal agreement with the Polish Federation president for when the contract expires so I know what will happen.
"For two and a half years we created a team we can count on in the future.
"Maybe we'll add some young players. I can't say we'll leave the ground devastated, we've played some good matches in friendlies and even here.
"Ok they weren't perfect or as good as we would have liked but this is football, this is how it works."
Smuda said he will be judged on his side's failure to reach the knock-out stages but insisted people have short memories given that his team were being praised following their 1-1 draw with Russia four days earlier.
"After the game against Russia we said the team was good and the fans agreed because we played effectively," he said.
"Of course after this defeat we focus on other details. We worked on this but in the national team you can't train every day and work on things, you can only focus on these during matches.
"We made great progress and we can continue to do so. In two months we have qualification games for the World Cup in Brazil and they really can qualify."