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06.01.2014, 14:30
"No matter who plays for us, we remain dangerous"
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EHF EURO COUNTDOWN: The Polish national team believes in its own strength and looks forward to a successful campaign at the EHF EURO 2014
 

Jurecki: No matter who plays for us, we remain dangerous

The recent years do not belong to the most succesful ones for the Polish national team. The last silverware dates back to the World Championship 2009 when Poland won bronze in a hotly contested match for third place against Denmark.

What followed suit was just a fourth place at the EHF EURO 2010 in Austria.

However, the current team is now aiming to add some more successful chapters to the history of Polish handball. With Michael Biegler, who succeeded Bogdan Wenta, a new coach sits on the bench, there are new players - while the team's core remained untouched - in the squad and therefore new expectations have come up.

One of the Polish stalwarts is Bartosz Jurecki, who plys his trade as a line player for German side SC Magdeburg.

"Our team is being rebuilt now. It's bad that because of injuries it is impossible to meet with the best squad as it used to be five, six years ago, when our team was born and we all were ready to fight.

"But this is the charm of a contact sport and we have to deal with it. There are many new faces now and we need time to adjust to working together," he says.

Time for the youth

The process of forming a good team started last year, when Michael Biegler took over as a head coach.

As some of the experienced players as Artur Siodmiak, Grzegorz Tkaczyk and Marcin Lijewski decided to finish their international careers, the German-born coach put his trust on a few young players and gave them a chance to shine at the World Championship 2013 in Spain.

Some of them, such as Robert Orzechowski or Kamil Syprzak have since made regular appearances in the national team including the Provident Cup that was played in Hungary the past weekend.

Poland won the tournament. After losing their first match against Belarus 28:29, they defeated Czech Republic 31:23 and the hosts 30:23.

Fighting with injuries

The tournament proved that 'the fresh blood' is an important part of the team as the two aforementioned players and other 'young guns' such as Piotr Chrapkowski and Jakub Lucak have performed well while some of the experienced ones like Michal Jurecki and Patryk Kuchczynski were training individually due to injuries.

"Michal could have gone with us to Hungary actually, but we wanted to try some alternatives if we didn’t manage to have him fully recovered until the championship," says Rafal Markowski, the doctor of the Polish team.

"Patryk is regenerating in his home town and he also should be ready for Denmark."

Several players, as Mariusz Jurkiewicz, Kamil Syprzak and Bartosz Jurecki also have small injuries but their appearance in Denmark is not in danger.

"I’m alright, maybe I lack a little bit of condition, but with regards to my knee the treatment is going well. My leg doesn’t hurt or swell so everything is fine," ensures Jurecki.

"Touching wood, everything’s OK and I'm hopeful that it is," says doctor Markowski with a smile on his face. "Current preparations have been quite easy and the players had time for resting a bit. From 7 January we’re starting on one hundred percent!"

A well-composed collective

The biggest advantage of the Polish team has always been the team spirit.

There never was one star that outshadowed the others with its brilliance, instead the players shone together.

This rule is still valid and so the Polish can rely on many good players, all experts on their respective position.

Michal Jurecki is referred to as being the 'Polish tank' by the domestic media, being the expert for when times get tough.

Krzysztof Lijewski is the specialist when it comes to steals and assists, Karol Bielecki is the master of long-distance throws, and Bartosz Jurecki, the 'smart fox' on the line, is nicknamed 'Shrek' because of his mighty posture and his calm temper.

A pillar in defence is Piotr Grabarczyk while Sławomir Szmal for many years has been the reliable man in goal.

Together with the young players they form a Polish team that is ready to make its mark at the EHF EURO 2014.

"We’ve got a great team spirit and no matter what our roster looks like, we are always able to concentrate and focus on the particular challenge.

"It’s great that no matter which names constitute our team, we still remain dangerous," says Jurecki.

Against Serbia again

Poland will start their campaign in Aarhus facing Serbia on 13 January, against whom they won 25:24 when they met last time at the World Championship 2013.

However, for Bartosz Jurecki that result is of no importance: "It’s been a year since we gained a victory in that thrilling game. We’ve already forgotten about it and I guess the Serbian players as well.

"Much more important is the fact, that it will be our opening match and it will be crucial for us to win it in order to walk further with belief in our abilities."


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / ts
 
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