Ekstraklasa

Poland’s big guns are misfiring

Poland’s big guns are misfiring

It has been another worrying month for supporters of Poland’s traditionally stronger clubs with Legia Warszawa and Wisła Kraków continuing their league campaigns in disappointing fashion.

Surprise results
Champions Legia and 2005/06 runners-up Wisła remain the country’s best hopes for a UEFA Cup group-stage qualification but their prospects have been dimmed by a slow start to the season. The Ekstraklasa has so far been dominated by GKS Bełchatów, who hold a three-point lead after seven matches. Experienced coach Orest Lenczyk has built a side without the influence of foreign players and based upon the promise of two newcomers to the Poland national team, playmaker Lukasz Gargula and forward Radoslaw Matusiak.

Petrescu dismissal
Legia were beginning to look like a club in crisis, before overwhelming the very side they had lost to in the Polish Super Cup, Wisła Płock, 5-0 on 17 September. But three days later the title-holders were surprised themselves when the third division’s bottom side, Stal Sanok, inflicted a 2-1 Polish Cup defeat upon them. “I feel betrayed by my players,” said coach Dariusz Wdowczyk, whose charges were also held 1-1 at home by FK Austria Wien in the UEFA Cup first round. Wisła, meanwhile, dismissed coach Dan Petrescu after last weekend’s 1-1 draw at lowly GKS Górnik Łęczna, their third consecutive league stalemate. The Romanian’s departure, though, was more a result of the 1-0 home reverse against Greece’s Iraklis FC in their UEFA Cup first-leg tie.

Okuka in charge
The decision still came as a surprise as Petrescu was credited with improving the team’s style of play and remained undefeated in his 23 league games in charge. He has been replaced by Dragomir Okuka, a former title winner with Legia. “I’m happy to be back in Poland. I knew I could only ever work for Legia or Wisła as they are the best clubs,” said the former Serbia and Montenegro Under-21 boss. Meanwhile, one club threatening the status quo are fourth-placed Korona Kielce who, after an average opening, achieved successive victories against Łęczna and RTS Widzew Lódz.

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