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Date: 8/10/2018
 

The first World Championship ever organised in Poland is proceeding perfectly for the hosts. In what is their debut at the IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship, Poland have recorded only victories so far, sitting on the maximum four points after two matches.

 

In Round 1, Poland overcame the African Youth Championship bronze medallists Angola with a seven-goal margin in their favour at the final whistle.

 

“The first minutes were very nervous on our part, but the rest went our way. We tried to focus on the game. We were prepared for this atmosphere in the hall, but at the beginning it did not work out. There was some stress, now we are happy with the win,” said goalkeeper Barbara Zima following the opening victory.

 

Zima played a crucial role as Poland followed that first result with a thrilling win against Slovakia, taking a 29:26 victory after a level score line at half-time. The keeper saved 17 shots at 40%, supporting the strong defence in front of her.

 

“The key to the victory was our defence, because with the defence you win the games. That was our task given to us by our head coach,” said Poland captain and top scorer Magda Wieckowska (15 goals in two matches) after the Round 2 clash. “We concentrated on defence mostly. With good defence, it’s much easier in the offence.”

 

“We hope that we will keep winning thanks to them”

 

Both of Poland’s games have been played in front of thousands of supporters in a full Hall Legionow, and the atmosphere has helped propel the home side to their strong victories.

 

“It’s an incredible feeling for us. Our fans give us our wins. We are very happy that they come in such big numbers to the arena, and we hope that we will keep winning thanks to them,” said Wieckowska, who is from the host city Kielce. “Of course, there are many friends of mine, my family in the stands. I try not to concentrate on that because our head coach said just to concentrate on the games, but of course I can count on the support of the people closest to me.”

 

On the opening night, 2015/16 Champions League winners and 15-time Polish champions Kielce were also in attendance. Several of the players from the international club have since been at the games to present the best player of the match awards, such as Spanish EHF EURO 2018 champion Alex Dujshebaev and Croatia’s Marko Mamic and Luka Cindric.

 

Kielce’s Michal Jurecki, who has won three World Championship medals (silver in 2007, bronze in 2009 and 2015) as left back for Poland, said events such as the Youth World Championship are important for gaining valuable on-court experience:

 

“When you are 18 years old the score is not the most important thing. The most important is that in two or three years the players will be able to present a much higher level. This championship is to gain experience. They have time to learn and there will come a time for the scores, for achievements. I would like Poland to win the championship, but the big success for them will be if they advance to the final stage of the tournament.”

 

With two wins behind them, Poland are already in a strong position to secure one of Group A’s places in the eighth-finals. In Round 3, they will meet fellow undefeated side Romania, in what can be expected to be a competitive match. The game will be played at 18:00 local time in Kielce and streamed live here.

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