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5 months ago - 5/3/2019

Cebula: “We were out of form but now we will show our best”

It will be a special occasion for both teams when SPR Pogon Szczecin and Rocasa Gran Canaria meet for the first leg of the Women’s Challenge Cup Final on Sunday at 18:00 CET (live on ehfTV.com).

While Rocasa also played the final last year - and lost to another Polish side, MKS Perla Lublin - Szczecin are returning to the final four years after their defeat to Union Mios Biganos-Begles. The French side won both legs (21:20 in Poland, 28:24 in France) to lift the trophy.

Szczecin centre back Agata Cebula was also part of the team that lost that 2014/15 final. This time, the team’s top scorer (36 goals) has high hopes of a better outcome.

europeancup.eurohandball.com: What do you remember from 2015 and the Challenge Cup Final lost against Mios?

Agata Cebula: We were very excited to play that first big final in the history of the SPR Pogon Szczecin team. The home game was really tough and tight. It was nearly a draw but in France things went worse than we expected, especially in the last minutes. But this overall experience and the memories are still positive. We were proud to reach the Challenge Cup Final in a difficult season for us.

europeancup.eurohandball.com: How about communication? Your team has five foreign players, mainly from Balkan countries, and two coaches from Croatia.

Agata Cebula: Initially we were a bit sceptic about it but now we got used to this new environment. The common language we use is English. Everyone in the team has at least a communicative knowledge that is more than enough to understand each another. Most of the players and coaches from Croatia, Montenegro or Serbia understand Polish but they generally don’t speak it.

europeancup.eurohandball.com: Have you watched last season’s final games between Rocasa and Lublin? You have some friends in Lublin, did they give you any tips how to beat the Spanish team?

Agata Cebula: We played against Lublin last Wednesday but there was no time to speak about Rocasa with the opponents. Maybe I will call my friends Kinga Achruk or Malgorzata Stasiak, who may give me some tips. But we have watched more than 90 minutes of Rocasa matches this season and I have also seen that Challenge Cup Final against MKS last May to analyse their strengths and weaknesses.

europeancup.eurohandball.com: Szczecin cannot win the Polish league anymore but you recently beat the two best teams. Has Wednesday’s win after penalties over Lublin given you some extra energy for the final against Rocasa?

Agata Cebula: Sure, especially after two bad weeks we had in the Polish championship with defeats to Start Elblag and KPR Kobierzyce. We were a bit out of form, I guess, but now I hope that in the following matches we will show our best. The victory against Lublin is always a very positive energy injection.

europeancup.eurohandball.com: After their defeat in the 2016 semi-final against Rocasa, the coach of Start Elblag said that some of his players were just frightened by the legendary Silvia Navarro between the posts. Have you studied her a bit more than usually?

Agata Cebula: Of course every single handball player must know and appreciate Silvia Navarro but I wouldn’t like to make her bigger than she really is. We are analysing her movements, the way she tries to stop the shots within her range. She is also great in starting fast attacks but there are no unbeatable goalkeepers, trust me.

europeancup.eurohandball.com: Szczecin do not regularly play in the big Netto Arena but are used to a much smaller and older venue. How do you feel playing in such a big ‘airport,’ as we say it in Polish?

Agata Cebula: I don’t think it may be a problem. Sure, if the players could choose, we would prefer to play in our tiny hall on Twardowskiego street, but it is not suitable for a big final in the European Cup. We had some games this season in the Netto Arena and we also used this venue before, so after two trainings on Friday and Saturday we should get used to it. I hope the fans will create a great atmosphere and will support us in Sunday’s game.

Author: Michal Pomorski / ew