Polish handball players want to break a curse that has lasted half a century

Polish handball players want to break a curse that has lasted half a century
Polish handball players want to break a curse that has lasted half a century

It seems unlikely, but the Polish national handball players have never played in the Olympic Games. Even though handball players have been competing for medals since the event in Montreal 1976, twelve attempts have so far ended in failure. Teams led by such well-known and distinguished coaches as: Bogdan Cybulski, Jerzy Noszczak, Jerzy Ciepliński, Zygfryd Kuchta, Zenon Łakomy and the Dane Kim Rasmussen did not manage to win Olympic tickets.

Why should the current coach of the women’s team, Norwegian Arne Senstad, bring to a happy end a mission that has so far turned out to be impossible? Especially since the first attempt at Paris turned out to be unsuccessful. In the 2022 European Championships, the Polish team did not make it out of the group. To advance to the top twelve of the tournament, which fought in the second phase of the Old Continent championship, there was one more goal needed in the match against Spain or two more goals against the Germans. It was difficult to win against the Montenegrin women in Podgorica not only for sporting reasons. The Norwegian women won gold in this event and were the first to qualify for the Olympics.

The second chance for European teams for direct Olympic promotion is the triumph in the world championships, which will be held in Scandinavia from November 29 to December 17.

Our national team easily defeated Kosovo twice in the 2023 World Cup qualifiers and maintained their hope of qualifying for the Olympics.

Senstad’s handball players will not be candidates for victory in the upcoming world championships. However, they are able to successfully fight for the quarterfinals of the World Championships. And a place in the eight should guarantee participation in one of the three decisive qualifying tournaments. Four teams will compete in each of them – from April 11 to 14, 2024, and the top two teams will each win Olympic passes.

To continue on the Olympic path in the spring, you need to complete two rounds of the World Championships. The Polish women were included in group F, which will play in Herning, Denmark.

For the White and Reds, advancing to the second round is an obligation. In the first phase, only the weakest teams are eliminated from the fight for medals, and the Polish women’s first opponents will be the Iranians (November 30, 8:30 p.m.), who are two levels worse than our representatives. Then the difficulty level will increase. Senstad’s players will face the Japanese (December 2, 8:30 p.m.), and finally, another important clash in recent years with the Germans (December 4, 8:30 p.m.). A victory over the second power in Asia and a win against the team from beyond our western border would mean four points before the start of the second round. In it, also in Herning, Polish women will most likely be faced with Danish, Romanian and Serbian women. To enter the quarterfinals, you must take at least second place in the second phase, i.e. overtake as many as four teams in group III.

– It seems like a complicated task, but we are so close to Germany, Romania and Serbia that we are able to beat these rivals during the most important event this year. We will be in good shape – coach Senstad convinced us a few weeks ago. In turn, when it came to the chances of qualifying for the Olympics, he used the biblical metaphor of the eye of a needle.

Piotr Matusewicz / Pressfocus

In the spring of 2016, Monika Kobylińska was close to qualifying for the Rio Olympics. Then the Polish national team, led by the Dane Kim Rasmussen, was eliminated at the last stage of the Olympic qualifications.

On Sunday in Cetniewo, the Polish women started their training camp before the World Championships. They will stay in the resort on the Baltic Sea for only three days. On Wednesday, they will fly to Norway, where they will play three friendly matches against the World Cup participants.

On Thursday, November 23, they will face the Icelanders in Hamar (start at 4:45 p.m.). On Saturday, November 25, in Lillehammer, they will have a test against Angola, the best team in Africa (7:15 p.m.). The last confrontation before this year’s most important start will be the most difficult challenge. On Sunday (November 22 at 2:45 p.m., again in the town where the 1994 Winter Games were held), Senstad’s compatriots will test the condition of our team. After the match against the current world and European champions, the coach will present the final team with which he will go to Silkeborg, Denmark. Our team will be accommodated during the World Championships in this city, 40 kilometers away from Herning.

Senstad doesn’t like surprises. Therefore, for the next week in Cetniewo, the B team will be training under the supervision of Sabina Włodek. In order to ensure that in the event of an injury to a player from the selected 18, she can be replaced as quickly as possible by a well-prepared replacement from the 35-person list submitted to the IHF for the championship starting in 9 days. globe.

In just three weeks we will find out whether Polish women will continue to follow the Olympic path to Paris or whether they will have to postpone their dreams of taking part in the Olympics for another four years, i.e. until Los Angeles 2028.

The article is in Polish

Tags: Polish handball players break curse lasted century


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