Modest Lublin rely on home court strengthArticle
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COUNTDOWN: Women's EHF Champions League countdown, part 7: MKS Lublin

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Modest Lublin rely on home court strength

It has been ten years since MKS Lublin last played the Women's EHF Champions League Group Matches, but now the Polish champions are back.

In six previous attempts between 2005 and 2010 the team of head coach Edward Jankowski did not make it past the qualification stage. This season, courtesy of the EHF seeding list, they qualified directly for the group matches.

Lublin strengthened their squad with seven new players, enhancing their options on the court as it is necessary on the European stage.

Two long-time key players, however, are out for the season: Kristina Repelewska is pregnant and Edyta Danielczuk had to put an end to her professional handball career because of health problems. She is now part of the team staff.

City, club and - of course - team mascot 'Kozigrodek' are eagerly awaiting the start of the EHF Champions League and they hope to make it to the main round. On the domestic level the club wants to win its 17th national championship.

The club's president, Michal Jastrzebski, allows himself to dream: "It is an honour for our team to be a part of the best and the most prestigious competition.

"We are going to do our best to be prepared in every single aspect to the games. We know well how important the Champions League for our spectators is and we deeply hope we will fulfil the expectations of our fans who want to see us fighting and being competitive.

"Another very important factor for us is the opportunity to promote the city of Lublin, the place is worth a visit from everyone."

Team captain Małgorzata Majerek counts on her team's home strength: "Qualifying for the main round is probably not our main objective. Our expectations are not that high.

"However, we know we play good handball and we simply want to do our best in every single match. We are aware that especially on home court we are able to cause some surprises."

The Polish champions face Buducnost, FTC and Midtjylland in their Group B.

Three questions to coach Edward Jankowski:

What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Edward Jankowski: We want to fight and reach the main round. This is our maximum plan, the minimum objective is to be at least the third team so that we continue playing in the European Cup.

It will be a tough task if we take into consideration that we missed the Champions League for so many years, that our team has changed lately and that we know the strength of our group opponents.

What does the participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?
Edward Jankowski: It has been a rare occasion in the past years that a Polish women’s handball team qualified for the Champions League so our participation should help a lot to promote and develop Polish handball as well as our club.

It should also increase the interest of local spectators and sponsors, it should increase our prestige and give us the opportunity to face the best European teams.

What teams are your personal favourites to win the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?
Edward Jankowski: The final might be the same as last season - Györ vs. Larvik. Those are two big teams with huge experience in European Cups and that’s why I see them as the favourites of the competition. 

MKS Lublin (POL)

Coach: Edward Jankowski, since 2003

Newcomers (including former club): Ekaterina Dzhukeva (EKS Start Elbląg), Joanna Drabik, Kamila Skrzyniarz, Honorata Syncerz (all from KSS Kielce), Katarzyna Kozimur, Joanna Szarawaga (both from SMS Gliwice), Marta Gega (Cergy-Pontoise, France)

Left the club (including new club): Ewa Wilczek, Edyta Danielczuk (end of career), Izabela Czarna (AZS Firmus Politechnika Koszalin), Małgorzata Stasiak (Pogon Baltica Szczecin)

Qualification for the 2013/2014 EHF Women’s Champions League season: Polish champions

EHF Women’s Champions League records:

Participations (including 2013/2014 season): 16

Quarter-finals: 1999/2000, 2001/02

Last 16: 1995/96

Group Matches/Champions League: 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 2000/2001, 2002/03, 2003/04

Qualification: 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:

Winner 2000/01

Quarter-finals: 2007/08, 2009/10

Polish champion: 16 times (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013)

Polish Cup winner: 10 times (1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts