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Poland: A new season and new chances

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Aug 2008

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Finally, the decision has been taken that the new season of the Ekstraklasa will start this weekend. The season opening will be held on Friday when Lech Poznan host Belchatow and Legia Warsaw face their city rivals Polonia.

Korona Kielce and Zaglebie Lubin have been left down in PolandÂ’s second tier of football for at least this coming season.

Champions Wisla Krakow finished last year’s competition with a 14 points lead over Legia. Despite losing two key members – Dariusz Dudka to Auxerre and Adam Kokoszka to Empoli – they remain top favourites for the title. The only new player is defender Peter Singlar, but it is rumoured that after eliminating Beitar Jerusalem in the Champions League qualifiers, a few new faces will be presented. First of the signings should be Brazilian Nei from Bulgarian champions CSKA Sofia, who are relegated due to serious financial trouble. Also Ze Kalanga, Angolan international, is linked with Wisla.

Legia Warsaw want to challenge for the title as well. In this order, notable names were brought to the squad, like Pance Kumbev, Piotr Rocki and – first of all – creative midfielder Maciej Iwanski. Also Piotr Giza and Takesure Chinyama were signed on a permanent basis. In place of Inaki Astiz, who returned from loan to Osasuna, three new Spaniards arrived (coach Urban and sporting director Trzeciak spent many years in Spain).

Two years after their merger with Amica Wronki, Lech Poznan’s coach Franciszek Smuda, openly talks about the championship. Only a couple of substitutes left Bulgarska street, whereas new signings Manuel Arboleda, Semir Stilic, Robert Lewandowski and Slawomir Peszko are expected to take first team places. Lech count on their biggest audience in the Ekstraklasa, for which they even started a club TV channel.

Another club from the Greater Poland region, Groclin Grodzisk moved to Warsaw last month and will play as Polonia. Their top scorer of last season departed to Murcia, as well as Rocki and Kumbev to Legia. Beside the players of former Groclin and Polonia there are no important signings. Ironically, the biggest reinforcement is the stay of young Poland international Radoslaw Majewski, who was linked with West Bromwich Albion for an estimated fee of 3 million euros. Polonia’s goal for this season is European qualification.

Another team with European ambitions is Gornik Zabrze. Goalkeeper Michal Vaclavik and midfielder Grzegorz Bonin were called to help. Cracovia also hope for UEFA Cup qualification, but it will be hard with their talented but young squad being built by coach Stefan Majewski.

Ruch Chorzow, Belchatow, Jagiellonia Bialystok and Odra Wodzislaw are solid mid-table teams, while Polonia Bytom and LKS Lodz must fight not to be relegated. Teams promoted from the second division are Lechia Gdansk, Slask Wroclaw, Piast Gliwice and Arka Gdynia.

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