Zaksa to carry Poland’s hopes at CLF4Kazan and to vie for second CL medal

Wednesday 9th of May 2018

Luxembourg, May 8, 2018. Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE will be carrying Poland’s dreams of glory this coming weekend when they return to the Final Four of the CEV Champions League for the first time since 2013. Four years ago, they finished fourth – and interestingly enough, the Final Four took place in Russia on that occasion as well, namely in the Siberian city of Omsk. 

In 2013, Zaksa lost the bronze medal match to this year’s Final Four hosts Zenit KAZAN but when travelling to the capital city of Tatarstan later this week, they will be hoping to improve or at least match the best result achieved by a Polish team in Europe’s elite club competition. PGE Skra BELCHATOW and Asseco Resovia RZESZOW won silver in 2012 and 2015 respectively, both losing the gold medal match to – again – Zenit KAZAN.

Zaksa will be chasing their second CEV Champions League podium finish in history – as they won bronze in 2003 under their previous denomination, Mostostal-Azoty KEDZIERZYN, after finishing fourth in 2002 when they hosted the Finals in Opole. 

They will also be looking for redemption after losing the championship series of the PlusLiga to PGE Skra BELCHATOW and will start their quest for glory in the semis playing Italy’s Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA. The first semi-final at Basket-Hall in Kazan is likely to be a closely contested one – since earlier this season Lube and Zaksa crossed their paths at the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship where the Italians pulled out a hard-fought 3-2 victory. 

It has been a truly long season for Zaksa as well – but a truly remarkable one in the Champions League, where they have suffered only one setback along the way to #CLF4Kazan. Zaksa did indeed lose to Noliko MAASEIK 2-3 when playing away from home in the fourth leg of the League Round but apart from this, their run has been an impeccable one this far. 

The Polish delegation will include two men who know the path to success very well. Their Italian coach Andrea Gardini is a three-time world champion with Italy’s ‘golden generation’ and an Olympic silver medallist from Atlanta 1996. Gardini is also a four-time winner of the CEV Champions Cup, a sort of forerunner to the present-day Champions League. Their President, Sebastian Swiderski, is a silver medal winner from the 2006 World Championship and the Best Spiker from the 2003 Champions League Finals held in Milano. They will surely find the right words to motivate a group including the likes of star players such as Benjamin Toniutti, Sam Deroo and Maurice Torres. 

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