Krajewski: “We are ready for the battle”
Without a doubt, the round 9 clash with GOG is the most important game of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2019/20 season for Orlen Wisla Plock. “We are ready for the battle,” says wing Przemyslaw Krajewski as the Polish side prepare for the match that could see them secure group D’s second ticket to the elimination round play-offs.
There was a moment this season when the chances of Wisla’s qualification for the elimination round looked very small. Halfway through the group phase it seemed the Polish side had only an illusory chance to succeed and the season would end with a huge disappointment. The atmosphere in the country was pessimistic. Headlines in the Polish press were not gracious: ‘Waiting for the miracle,’ ‘Wisla on the edge,’ ‘“The Oilers” are on a precipice.’
“We were aware that after losing in Bucharest [in round 6] our situation was very difficult. But sometimes life can surprise us unexpectedly. When we got a chance, we made the most of it. I strongly believe that we will do our best to use this opportunity,” says Krajewski.
Orlen Wisla desperately needed points. When the Polish runners-up lost in Romania, it was difficult to be optimistic. Coach Xavier Sabate’s team remain in the race for the remaining play-off ticket, after Dinamo secured the first, only because of a moment of weakness from GOG.
The Danish side gave Plock a helping hand, with their defeats to Kadetten Schaffhausen and Chekhovskie medvedi and the draw against IFK Kristianstad bringing new hopes to the ‘Oilers’. Plock could finally breathe a sigh of relief as they regained the chance to control their fate.
“After the unfavourable outcome in Bucharest, we finally rebuilt mentally. We are all aware of how important the game against GOG is. We want to show our best side, win and qualify. We will do everything in our power to reach the next round,” says Krajewski.
Plock took a big step towards the play-offs in Schaffhausen in round 8, winning 27:24. However, it was not an easy game. Sabate’s team have been struggling with injuries from the beginning of the season. The list of players who have been dealing with health problems is long: Michal Daszek, Philip Stenmalm, Konstantin Igropulo, Ziga Mlakar, Alvaro Ruiz, Ondrej Zdrahala, and Leon Susnja. Given the circumstances, the coach has had to be creative.
“We have to face many challenges, especially we have to deal with injuries in our team. I know that those who are able to play leave their heart on the field. We have a lot of matches during this season, tiredness overlaps,” says Krajewski.
“Before the game with Kadetten, we were conscious that we were facing a huge opportunity that we had to seize. We were well prepared and played satisfactorily – and, essential for us, the game ended without any additional injuries. We are ready for the next match.”
When GOG and Orlen Wisla came face to face for the first time this season, the Danish side triumphed, 28:27. “Our rivals used weaknesses in our defence. I hope that on Sunday we will avoid such mistakes,” says Krajewski.
The Polish team are in a very comfortable situation – to secure qualification for the play-off, Plock need to win the home match versus GOG by two goals. “We don’t think about it. We need to focus on our own good game and try to win. Maybe this two-goal deficit will have an impact on the match, but we will do our best to win with even more difference,” concludes Krajewski.Author: Aneta Szypnicka / cg