"The Oilers" are backArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 16: Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)

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"The Oilers" are back

Last season, it was one of the biggest sensations in European leagues, when Orlen Wisla Plock won the final series in Poland against the great favourites Vive Targi Kielce.

Strike number seven

Even in Kielce the team of Danish coach Lars Walther took the points – and now play in the VELUX EHF Champions League for the seventh time.

Five times the Polish Champions were eliminated after the Group Stage, once they reached the Last 16 – but this was 15 years ago.

Experienced new players

Now Orlen Wisla improved their team with the experienced playmaker Nikola Eklemovic (Veszprem) and Polish international Michal Kubisztal, who arrived from Berlin.

And the objectives of the team, nicknamed "the Oilers" – as main sponsors Orlen own a chain of petrol stations, are clear: to reach the finals of the Polish league and cup and to proceed to the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

President sees good chances

Club president Andrzej Miszczynski expects a "good chance to reach the knock-out stage. Teams like Constanta or St. Petersburg are on the same level as our team, but every match will be difficult."

Miszczynski believes that their opponents have more international experience, as they have played more often in the VELUX EHF Champions League: "We must exhaust our abilities a 100 percent to achieve our goal."

Captain sees opponents on eye-level

Team captain Adam Wisniewski considers the VELUX EHF Champions League as a "great challenge. I believe that our fans will have a lot of fun in this competition, as we will be able to show them that we can stay on eye-level with to the rest of our group.

We want to advance to the Last 16, but we have great respect for our opponents. HSV Hamburg seem to be hugest rival, but the rest is on our level.

We deserve to play in the VELUX EHF Champions League, and we want to show a fierce battle every match."

New arena in Plock

The Polish champions especially hope on an positive effect of their new Orlen Arena with a capacity of 5,500 spectators.

In addition to the new arena the team is supported by their mascots Vistula, two white bears.

In the preparation Plock several times met THW Kiel, first at a tournament in Poland then in Kiel.

One of the key players, Vukasin Rajkovic, has recovered from a severe knee injury completely.

Three questions to coach Lars Walther

ehfCL.com: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League – concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Lars Walther: We believe we have a good chance to go on from the Group Stage.

I think only HSV Hamburg are really better than our team and the rest of the group. So it will be a very even group.

ehfCL.com: What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Lars Walther: It means a lot to us, as it is a great honour to play in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Besides it is also a great chance for our players to gain a lot of experience for the future. It is also a great possibility to promote our club in Europe.

ehfCL.com: What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Lars Walther: I think THW Kiel will have best chances. They had a lot of injuries last season and it looks like all players are on board for this season.

So they will have a good chance to go to the final. Barcelona have also been playing very well and they are on a very good path. These are my top two favourites.

Below them I see HSV Hamburg and Atletico Madrid as the next two contenders. But there are many good teams and I think it will be very interesting this season which teams qualify for the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

Club facts – Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)

Newcomers: Nikola Eklemovic (MKB Veszprem/HUN), Michal Kubisztal (Füchse Berlin/GER), Muhamed Toromanovic (KIF Kolding/DEN), Christian Spanne (Drammen HK/NOR)

Left the club: Vegard Samdahl (Viking Stavanger/NOR), Tomek Paluch (end of career), Rafael Kuptel (end of career)

Coach: Lars Walther, since 2010

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Polish Champion

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 7
Last 16 (1): 1995/1996
Group Phase (5): 2002/2003, 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2008/2009

Polish champion: 1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011
Polish Cup winner: 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008

Further information

Find more information on Orlen Wisla Plock HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen