Daszek leads proud Plock at second EHF Finals visit
Orlen Wisla Plock are heading to their second straight EHF Finals Men. Alongside defending champions SC Magdeburg, they are the only team returning to the final tournament of the EHF European League after the premiere last season.
And with no Polish team having won Europe’s second-tier club competition before, this is the chance for Plock to write history.
“We are satisfied with our performance in the competition, but the season is not over yet,” right back Michal Daszek says. “We still have something to prove to ourselves. We have the experience from last season.”
The only non-German club at the inaugural edition last year, Plock finished the EHF Finals 2021 in Mannheim in fourth place. So, the only way is up in Lisbon this weekend when Plock are among the four best teams from the competition again.
“It is a pleasure to be in such a strong group of four teams. I am proud of my team and what we have achieved so far, but I know that it hasn’t been a surprise for us: we are working a lot and this work pays off,” Daszek says.
Their first opponents at the EHF Finals at Altice Arena in Lisbon are hosts and debutants SL Benfica on Saturday at 18:30 CEST (live on EHFTV).
The teams have not played each other before.
“It is always difficult to play against the hosts. They are a really good team with a lot of internationally experienced players. Benfica have a really good coach and we know that it will not be easy to challenge them in the semi-finals,” says Daszek, who has scored 54 goals since the start of the group phase this season.
Plock are enjoying a strong season in Europe’s second tier, having won 12 from their 14 matches so far.
The Polish team has several players who have netted more than 30 times already, backed by a solid defence and Adam Morawski between the posts. It makes coach Xavier Sabate’s team a hard nut to crack.
“We are trying to play as much as possible as a team, in which everyone has important things to do. I think it is working pretty well and because of this, many of us scored more than 30 goals.”
Daszek adds he is “satisfied” about his own performce – not more than that.
“There is of course a lot to improve,” he says. “Let’s say that for me it is not important how many goals I score, I focus more on my teammates and to create them opportunities to score the goals. It is all about team effort.”
We are trying to play as much as possible as a team, in which everyone has important things to do. I think it is working pretty well and because of this, many of us scored more than 30 goals.
In the build-up to the EHF Finals 2022, Plock met Lomza Vive Kielce on Tuesday in the last match of the Polish domestic championship. Plock led 10:8 at the break, but the match ended 20:20 before Kielce won the penalty shootout. More bad news for Plock was the injury to centre back Niko Mindegia, who tore ligaments in his right knee and will miss the EHF Finals this weekend.
Kielce, of course, are also heading to the final tournament of a European club competition, as they are one of the participants at the EHF FINAL4 2022 in Cologne on 18/19 June.
“It is good and bad to play a hard match like that one against Kielce so shortly ahead of the EHF Finals,” Daszek says. “It is always better to play against strong teams and keep in good shape. The bad side is we can be more tired after such a difficult game. But I know we will give our best on the court in Lisbon.”