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29.08.2018, 17:30
New rules but same title favourites in Poland
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SEASON PREVIEW: The competition format of the Polish national league has changed once more, but it will be hard to see past Kielce in search for the 2018/19 champions

»EHF CL Channel »2018-19 Men's News
»
 

New rules but same title favourites in Poland

PGE Vive Kielce start their quest for a 16th Polish national title at Gwardia Opole on Friday (31 August), the opening match of the PGNiG Superliga 2018/19.

Having won the championship for the past seven seasons, Kielce are the main contenders for the title once again.

A restructure of the competition format won’t change that.

Rules have been simplified and the number of teams reduced after the previous format - with a group structure and a bonus point system - proved to be too complicated even for many die-hard followers of Polish handball.

Returning to some more basic regulations

This year, the league is returning to some more basic regulations. The competition starts with a main round with 14 teams (instead of last season’s 16), and each team will play all other teams twice. The eight best ranked teams will advance to a knockout phase with quarter-finals, semi-finals, and a final.

Draws are not possible: if the score is level after 60 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will follow with the winner taking two points and the loser one. A win within 60 minutes is worth three points.

The new structure, with a knockout phase and lesser participants, should give more breathing space between matches to the Polish teams which are also competing in the various European Cups.

A huge injection of international stars

While defending champions Kielce are the obvious favourites, many regard Orlen Wisla Plock as the likely runners-up again. However, teams like Azoty Pulawy, Górnik Zabrze and MMTS Kwidzyn could pose a tough challenge to any opponent.

This year the league got a huge injection of international handball stars. Fans will be able to see the likes of versatile playmaker Luka Cindrić, young and talented Uladzislau Kulesh and fast and flexible goalkeeper Vladimir Cupara at Kielce, while experienced Hungarian line player Renato Sulić and the top scorer of the EHF EURO 2018, Ondrej Zdrahala, have joined Plock.

The coaches’ carousel has been turning, as well. The new coach of the Oilers is Xavier Sabate, while Azoty Pulawy appointed Bartosz Jurecki, former Polish international and older brother of Michal. Uros Zorman remained in Kielce but moved from the court to the bench to assist Talant Dujshebaev, whose previous assistant, Tomasz Strzabala, is now the head coach of MMTS Kwidzyn.


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / ew
 
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