Proud Lublin prepared for tough challenge
After four long years, MKS Perla Lublin are back in the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League group matches. Everyone in Lublin’s big Handball community is proud of again being part of the most prestigious competition in women’s club Handball.
The Handball pearl from Eastern Poland recently won their 21st national league title. In the middle of October, they will celebrate 25 years since they first participated in a European Cup competition.
Three questions before the new season:
– Can Lublin advance from a challenging group?
MKS Perła Lublin have been drawn in group B, where they will face former champions CSM Bucuresti and 2018/19 runners-up Rostov-Don. Team manager and president Mariusz Szmit says that their main goal is to qualify for the main round: “All the opponents in our group B are super strong. To be successful we need to focus and prepare maximally for every single game.”
Knowing the strength of the group opponents, Lublin’s team captain, Weronika Gawlik, is realistic: “It’s going to be very tough, as we will face champions and runners-up from much stronger leagues. Every point will increase team morale and will give us an extra enthusiasm to train harder.”
– What difference can Lublin’s newcomers make?
Stepping up from the Women’s EHF Cup to the Champions League is a challenge for any club. Last season Lublin were eliminated from the EHF Cup by E.S Besancon Feminin, but they have undergone something of a summer revamp. Coach Robert Lis starts his third season in Lublin and hopes to build a stronger team than last year. Lublin have added many newcomers, including three from last season’s Challenge Cup finalists, SPR Pogon Szczecin.
– How will playing in the Champions League help Lublin develop further?
“For 21-time Polish Champions, playing in the DELO Women’s EHF Champions League is a natural direction if we want to grow. Our marketing potential may be still developed, and such a prestigious competition helps us in our process,” says Mariusz Szmit.
All in all, Lublin are looking forward to playing in group B – especially at Globus hall for their home matches.
Under the spotlight: Kinga Achruk
In a team looking for experience on Europe’s top level, Kinga Achruk might show them the way. The 30-year-old centre back has been there, done that: she won the Champions League with Buducnost in 2014/15. She joined Lublin in 2017 and will be a key element to coach Robert Lis’ tactical game plans.
Returning to the European top flight after four seasons, Lublin are aware they need to gain experience but they definitely want win a couple of points, too. Weronika Gawlik: “We would like to show ourselves from a good side and give some joy to our fans. It would be awesome to gain some points, not only this big international experience we all need.”
What the numbers say
25 is the number that counts in Lublin this season: 25 years ago, in 1994, Montex Lublin debuted in the Women’s City Cup for the club’s first European Cup experience. The club is celebrating the milestone with a social media series on ‘25 legends for 25 years’ under the hashtah #25lat, meaning 25 years.
While centre back Kinga Achruk might be one of the leading players in the current squad, her mother had a similar role in the 1990s, when she was a back court player with MKS Montex Lublin.
MKS Perla Lublin (POL)
Qualified for DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League 2019/20 season: Polish champions
Newcomers: Valentina Blazevic, Karolina Kochaniak, Natalia Nosek (all from SPR Pogon Szczecin), Joanna Gadzina (EKS Start Elbląg), Aleksandra Olek (SMS Płock)
Left the club: Aleksandra Januchta (MTS Żory), Agnieszka Kowalska (unknown), Valiantsina Nestsiaruk and Ewa Urtnowska (both pregnant)
Coach: Robert Lis (since 2017)
Team captain: Weronika Gawlik
Women’s EHF Champions League record:
Participations (including 2019/20 season): 21
Quarter-final (2): 1999/2000, 2001/02
Last 16 (1): 1995/96
Group Matches (5): 2002/03, 2003/04, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16
Champions League (3): 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99
Round 2 (1): 2001/02
Qualification Tournament (8): 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2016/17, 2018/19
Other EC records:
Quarter-final: 2007/08, 2009/10
Cup Winners’ Cup:
21 titles (1995-2003, 2005-2010, 2013-2016, 2018, 2019)
11 titles (1996-1998, 2000-2002, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2018)
TEXT: Michal Pomorski / jw, ew