Rasmussen at the reins as Lublin aim for new heightsArticle
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EUROPEAN LEAGUE COUNTDOWN #7: MKS Perla Lublin (POL): Kim Rasmussen has taken on one of his toughest challenges yet with the Polish champions
»2020-21 Women's News

Since winning the Challenge Cup in 2018, Lublin have found the going tough in Europe. A single win and two draws from 16 European matches led to a change in the summer with Kim Rasmussen taking over from Robert Lis.

The squad, chock full of players and a coach with international experience knows what it takes to perform at this level but must put theory into practice. As captain and goalkeeper Weronika Gawlik says: “We want to fight, despite the fact that we probably will not be placed as a favourite. Our team is hungry for wins.”

The burning question – What magic can Kim Rasmussen work with this team?

Kim Rasmussen loves a good challenge and he has built a reputation for himself as a coach who can deliver great things in difficult circumstances.

This past summer he took charge of Lublin, returning to the country he helped propel to a new level on the international stage, leading the national team to two World Championship semi-finals.

A COVID-disrupted season has made the challenge of moulding this much-changed squad, seven players in and nine out, tricky but the Danish coach has a core of proven Polish players to work with.

Lublin are tasked with a tough group, featuring Nantes, Lada and Kastamono, where all four teams will see themselves as contenders and picking up points at home will be vital.

Signature players

Star attraction - Kinga Achruk

One of the highest-profile women in Polish handball, Kinga Achruk made a name for herself during a four-year spell with Buducnost at the height of their powers, during which she reached the EHF Champions League final twice and winning it once.

The powerful back court player and defensive anchor gave birth in September and is working hard on getting ready to hit the court again, so it remains to be seen what kind of impact she will have this season. Nevertheless, her presence in the team cannot be underestimated.

The journeywoman - Jaqueline Anastácio

Nothing in this European League campaign will surprise Jaqueline Anastácio, because it is likely she has seen it all. The 33-year-old left back has been on a wild European adventure over the past decade with spells at 11 clubs in 10 nations.

Signed from BM Remudas this year, Lublin will be hoping the Brazilian’s international nous will come in handy when facing clubs from two countries she has played in, including her former club Kastamonu.

A night to remember

It had been a long wait, since the EHF Cup in 2001, for Lublin to capture a European trophy and recent seasons had not been kind to them, so a move down to Challenge Cup level in 2017/18 was an interesting development.

Having battled through tough quarter and semi-final opponents, 2016 winners Rocasa Gran Canaria proved equally tough in the final, as shown by he 22:22 draw in the first leg.

4000 fans packed the Globus Hall in Lublin for the second leg, driving their team to an early 11:6 lead before the Spanish club fought back within one. It was a similar tale in the second half as a 16:12 lead turned into a 17:16 deficit.

Lublin had one last push in them, however, and led by Kinga Achruk’s seven goals, they took control of the game once more, powering to a 27:23 win and claiming their second European title.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Magda Balsam (Eurobud JKS Jarosław), Paulina Wdowiak (MTS Żory), Durdina Malović (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria), Andrijana Tatar (ZORK Jagodina), Jaqueline Anastacio (Rocasa Gran Canaria), Marina Razum (HC Dunărea Brăila), Natalia Vinyukova (Magura Cisnadie)

Departures: Aneta Łabuda (E.S Besancon Feminin), Valentina Blażević (Magura Cisnadie), Gabrijela Besen (unknown), Karolina Kochaniak (MKS Zagłębie Lubin), Sylwia Matuszczyk (Eurobud JKS Jarosław), Valentina Nestsiaruk (Eurobud JKS Jarosław), Mia Moldrup (retired), Małgorzata Stasiak (retired), Ewa Urtnowska (retired).

Past achievements

EHF Cup:
Winners (1): 2000/01

Challenge Cup:
Winners (1): 2017/18

National league (22): 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020
National cup (11): 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012,2018

TEXT: EHF / Chris O'Reilly