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25.03.2014, 13:17
Small steps down a long road for Poland
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NEWS REPORT: Kim Rasmussen’s team looking to get back on track after disappointing start to EHF EURO 2014 qualification campaign
 

Small steps down a long road for Poland

After losses in the first two rounds of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification Group 3 – an anticipated away failure 21:25 against Montenegro and quite surprising 19:22 against Czech Republic on home court – Poland will look forward to facing Portugal, a team that together with Kim Rasmussen’s women remain on zero points on their account.

After a great performance at the World Championship in Serbia, the players do not want to drop from that level and declare a tough fight for the place that guarantees participation in the final tournament. Last Friday the Polish team began intensive preparations for the Portuguese trip and, despite a huge dose of respect, truly believe in their chances.

Getting into night mode

“We feel up to the task. Our rival is weaker than us, we have to admit it honestly, so we have to win in Portugal and then at home, especially at home,” said back court player Iwona Niedźwiedź.

“It does not mean that we do not respect Portuguese team anyway. For sure we will not underestimate them. But you know, in Serbia we built up a reputation for ourselves and now it does not befit our team to fall from our level.

“We have to gain four points in next two duels against Portugal, there’s no doubt about it. However, we assume a margin of errors and bear in our minds that some things can go wrong, because of the journey and the late-night game (21:00 hrs.),” explained the 34-year-old.

The Polish training staff, however, took care of a proper preparation cycle, so that the players were ready for the circumstances.

“Our evening trainings started at 19:30 hrs. Usually at this time we have dinner, so it is not comfortable to work in such a mode, but it is necessary because of the late hour of the upcoming match. We have to be ready for Wednesday,” said Niedźwiedź.

Spread the wings

They say “Never change a winning team”. It seems that the Polish coach does have a similar train of thought as there will not be a huge reshuffle in his team’s ranks for next two matches in comparison to the Serbian squad.

Nevertheless, Kim Rasmussen wants to give several young players a chance to perform, as looking forward, he wants to create a team based on the mix of experience and freshness.

Among them are two talented left-handed wingers, Katarzyna Janiszewska (18 years old) and Aneta Łabuda (19 years old), that the coach sets his biggest hopes on. This means that Katarzyna Koniuszaniec is going to get time off.

Yet the core of the team remains almost unchanged and the players are happy to meet after a break for the club competition.

“We have very nice group of girls, pleasant trainings and we feel comfortable among each other. Serious injuries have luckily more or less passed us by in the past few weeks, so with hearts and heads full of energy we are going to Portugal in order to play our handball game,” emphasised Niedźwiedź.

Do our own thing

Although the success from Serbia is still echoing in the country, the team wants to move ahead and is aware of the fact that it is impossible to live in the past.

“We underline the championship in Serbia with a bold line and we are looking forward to the qualification matches. The European contest is ahead of us, but in order to get there we have to move forward step by step, focusing on each tiny stage. Only this can lead us to the December challenge,” admitted Niedźwiedź.

She realises how important it is for Poland not to drop out of the biggest handball events so soon after ending a six-year absence, but she takes care of the calm atmosphere in the team as it is necessary to work.

“I think there’s no pressure. Pressure or fear of failure is the worst thing that can occur to an athlete. We do not stress more than we should, we just do our own thing,” concluded Niedźwiedź.

The first leg takes place in Maia on Wednesday, 26 March, at 21:00 local time. The reverse fixture is scheduled for Sunday, 30 March, at 17:30 in Zielona Góra.


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / cor
 
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