On Wednesday February 1, in a match against Orlen Wisła Płock, NMC Górnik Zabrze will try to repeat their last years’ sensational result.
It is not going to be easy, as Wisła have long been part of the handball elite, both Polish and European. The team does great in league games and in the Champions League. In this PGNiG Superleague season, Wisła only lost one game, against Vive Tauron Kielce. But their goal difference is still better than that of the Polish Champions: Wisła scored 157 goals more than they conceded (for Vive the difference is 127).
That said, handball fans surely remember the December 2015 match, when Zabrze snatched a 34-34 draw after a fierce game. In the final seconds, Marek Daćko was fouled as he attempted a shot on goal. The referees did not award a penalty shot to NMC, though many commentators thought they should have. “What’s done is done, but with the current regulations, the referee would have to grant a seven-meter throw. Back then, this wasn’t that clear, and the referees seemed afraid of making that call,” recounts Bartłomiej Tomczak, the NMC Górnik Zabrze winger.
Right now, the team focus on the coming match. Can they rise up to the challenge? “Any team can be defeated. We know they have stronger players, they are more experienced. They play in the Superleague, they play in the Champions League, they are a seasoned team. But we will put up a fight regardless, we are not just going to roll over. Anything can happen in the game. We will be ready just like for any league game, but even more focused. We will try to give a good performance. We know our rivals’ worth, but we also know our own. What’s the outcome going to be? We’ll see,” commented coach Ryszard Skutnik in his distinctive terse style.
Rafał Gliński, the NMC Górnik backcourt, added: “It all starts in our heads. We need to remember to look for opportunities, and they may come. Of course we have a lot of respect for Wisła, as they play in the Champions League. But we are not intimidated. If we give our best and avoid stupid mistakes, we can compete with them.” But he adds more carefully: “It is going to be quite a challenge, though. They have Poland internationals in their lineup, and other national team members. We all know it is going to be tough, but as long as the ball is in play, we still stand a chance. The question is: can we use it.”
What is the plan, then? “We need unity and determination… And maybe a stroke of luck,” said Adrian Niedośpiał, the Górnik captain.
The game begins at 6:30 PM, on Canal+ Sport.