EHF Cup countdown, part 14: Orlen Wisła Płock (POL)
Last season, Orlen Wisła Płock made it to the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League after becoming Polish champions the previous season. This season, after failure to qualify for the competition via the wildcard tournament, they were forced to settle for the EHF Cup.
They entered the competition at the third round of the newly structured EHF Cup and had an easy passage to the Group Phase after comfortably beating Russian side Sungul Snezhinsk.
Danish born coach Lars Walther has a high quality squad at his disposal and the team are among the favourites to reach the Finals in Nantes.
Club president Andrzej Miszczyński’s mission statement before the start of the Group Phase could not be clearer.
“Our main goal is to win the group and then advance to the Final Tournament of the EHF Cup.”
The Polish league runners-up, who beat VELUX EHF Champions League participants Vive Targi Kielce at domestic level already this season, are also aiming high in their league, fighting to take the crown this season.
With their sights set on winning the league and going all the way in the EHF Cup, the squad was improved by top players like Petar Nenadić, Valentin Ghionea, Ivan Nikčević, and Ferenc Ilyés before the start of the season. However, Ilyés and Piotr Chrapkowski are currently suffering from injuries.
Three questions to coach Lars Walther:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Lars Walther: Our goal is to win the group, that’s our main goal. We have to take our opponents seriously to do that. Team TVIS is, in my opinion, our hardest rival in the group.
What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Lars Walther: It means a lot for us to participate in Europe, so we can continue our development of our club. We want to be recognized as a top European team.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Lars Walther: Orlen Wisła Płock, Rhein Neckar Löwen, KIF Kolding, HBC Nantes, and Göppingen. I think four of these five teams will reach the final tournament.
Orlen Wisła Płock (POL) – Group C
The road to the Group Phase:
Round 3: 37:23, 29:24 against Sungul Snezhinsk
Coach: Lars Walther, since 1 August 2010
Newcomers: Petar Nenadić, Valentin Ghionea, Ivan Nikčević, Ferenc Ilyés
Left the club: Arkadiusz Miszka, Zbigniew Kwiatkowski, Morten Seier, Joakim Backström
Biggest successes in EHF European Cup competitions:
VELUX EHF Champions League: 8 appearances – Last 16 1995/96, 2011/12, Group Matches 2002/03, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2008/09, qualification 2012/13.
EHF Cup: 3 appearances – quarter-finalists 1993/94, Round 3 2000/01, Round 2 2009/10.
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup: 10 appearances – quarter-finalists 1996/97, Last 16 2005/06, 2006/07, Last 32 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, Round 4 2001/02, Round 3 2010/11, Round 2 2003/04, 2007/08.
Polish league: winners 1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011.
Polish Cup: winners 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008.
Born on 15 October 1965, in Denmark
As a player, Lars Walther made a trip through Europe, playing for a number of Danish clubs and for sides from Germany, Portugal, and Iceland.
In 2000 he started his coaching career at Virum Sorgenfri in Denmark, finishing fourth in the league. After two seasons in Roskilde, he moved to German side SG Flensburg-Handewitt, before leading Slovenian club Gorenje Velenje.
After one season (2006/07) in Hildesheim (Germany), Walther became the coach at Conversano in Italy, before returning to Germany for two years at Emsdetten. Since 2010 the travelling coach is the head coach at Orlen Wisła Płock.
Date of birth: 8 February 1978, Belgrade
Centre back Nikola Eklemović first played played for Serbia at the EHF EURO 2004, before he received the Hungarian citizenship in 2007 and played for Hungary at EHF EURO 2008.
Eklemović started his career at Red Star in his home town Belgrade, before he played 12 seasons in total for Hungarian clubs, Pick Szeged (1999-2004) and MKB Veszprém (2004-2011). He then transferred to Orlen Wisła Płock.
Achievements include becoming Yugoslavian league champion three times in 1997, 1998, and 1999, and five times Hungarian league champion in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2008 he won the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup with Veszprém.
Date of birth: 24 October 1980 in Płock
Adam Wiśniewski is a child of Płock. Aged 18, he started playing for Orlen Wisła and never moved away from the club. The Polish international has won six national league titles, alongside five national cups. The left winger scored 35 goals for Płock in the VELUX EHF Champions League last season.
Find more information on Orlen Wisła Płock here
The schedule of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase can be found here
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor