Saturday has been a great day for Polish fans as they saw both their national teams qualify to the championships. After a thrilling match of the Polish ladies which they won after beating Czech Republic 25:22 and thus qualified to the European Championships, then it came the gentlemen’s turn to fight for the World Championships.
The morning news in the Polish camp were, to put it mildly, not optimistic because it turned out one of the most important players Mariusz Jurkiewicz would not be able to play due to his sudden injury. This information sort of covered the fact that Krzysztof Lijewski was back after his recent absence. Polish coach decided to substitute Jurkiewicz with Michał Jurecki, and Poles began to play with Jurecki as a playmaker.
However, the beginning showed that the team worked even without Jurkiewicz, as after 6 minutes Poles were ahead with 2 goals (4:2) but it ended up quickly because it took Germans about 1 minute to equalize (4:4). Right after that Michał Daszek wasted a fastbreak and a chance to lead 5:4; instead, Patrick Groetzki scored and gave his team the lead. With the result 6:6, after a two a bit questionable referees’ decisions, Germans got away by 2 goals and it was the moment when Poles starting falling behind. It looked like the first leg match replay – great German defence (even though they lost Patrick Wiencek due to his injury in 10. minute) and poor, chaotic Polish attack.
Sławomir Szmal did not resemble himself from the first game so after 20 minutes he was replaced in a goal by Piotr Wyszomirski. With 3 goals to catch up, Polish coach called for a time out but it did not help and in the space of a few minutes the German advantage increased to 5 goals (12:7). Good attitude of Wyszomirski help his team mates catch up but it was not that easy bearing in mind the number of their mistakes and the number of Heinevetter saves. After a little chaos by the end of the half, Germans left the court leading 14:10.
The second half was opened with a penalty throw for Poland, successfully executed by Bartosz Jurecki. Due to Wyszomirski save and M. Jurecki’s goal, the result was 14:12 but Germany did not let the advantage shrink even more. However, Poland, slowly but surely, were coming from behind and in 43. minute Daszek equalized at 18:18. It was a temporary joy for Poles because Uwe Gensheimer hit the Polish net twice and silenced cheering Polish fans. However, since this moment the qualification was on the edge. Poles needed only a draw and when 10 minutes before the end the result was higher than the result achieved last week in Poland, they could afford to lose by 1. But Germany kept leading by 2 as Poland kept making awful mistakes in attack and only Wyszomirski saved the situation. 2 minutes before the end, Germans wasted their chance to score for 28:26 by throwing the ball outside the court and Karol Bielecki equalized at 27:27. In a couple seconds Bartosz Jurecki and Piotr Chrapkowski finished off German hopes by scoring another two goals. In the end Poland won 29:28 and go to Qatar, making Germans stay at home again.
TEXT: MARTYINA USNARSKA