22 Nov. 2022
For the first time, the IHF Men’s World Championship will be hosted by Poland, a team that has been through highs and lows over the last two decades in the competition. They delivered some of the best handball on display but fell on the pecking order after a slew of retirements from the players of the golden generation.
In 2007, Poland lost only one match before the final, where they conceded a 24:29 loss against hosts Germany. Two years later, Poland again made it to the semi-finals, securing the bronze medal.
Finally, in 2015, the swan song of a generation that featured all-time greats like Karol Bielecki, the Jurecki brothers or Sławomir Szmal saw Poland take another bronze medal to add to their collection in Qatar. It was the last time Poland finished in the top 10 at the world men’s handball flagship event.
Since then, Poland have tried forming a new core with up-and-coming players like Kamil Syprzak, Michał Daszek or Przemysław Krajewski, who also featured in the competition in Qatar. But they were shocked in 2019 when they failed to qualify for the IHF Men’s World Championship for the first time since 2005.
They returned at Egypt 2021 with a young squad, but the lack of experience was on display, with the eyes firmly set for Poland/Sweden 2023, where they would be co-hosts for the first time in history. Eventually, with three wins, a draw and two losses, Poland ended up on the 13th place, a slight improvement from the 17th spot earned at France 2017.
Poland have also failed to impress at the EHF EURO 2022, where they finished 12th, once again a small improvement with coach Patryk Rombel at the helm, but still missing the efficiency needed for a long tournament like the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship.
The draw has definitely not been kind with Rombel’s side, with two other European sides in the group, France and Slovenia, and Asian underdog Saudi Arabia, that can throw some surprises whenever they hit top form.
“We had little luck in the draw; we will play against a side that everyone wanted to avoid – Slovenia – but we need to win at least two games and start the main round with at least two points. We have one of the three toughest groups here, but we will do our best to try and create a good result,” said Poland’s coach Patryk Rombel after the draw.
The co-hosts will rely on two of Łomża Industria Kielce’s top players, Arkadiusz Moryto and Szymon Sićko, who helped their club team qualify for the final of the previous edition of the EHF Champions League Men. At the same time, line player Kamil Syprzak has been in peak form in the past seasons, delivering superb performances for French champions PSG Handball.
With the preliminary round played in Katowice and the eventual main round in Krakow, Poland will also need their fiery fans to help them, with the home advantage being key to a successful route in the tournament.
Coach: Patryk Rombel
Key players: Arkadiusz Moryto (right wing), Kamil Syprzak (line player), Szymon Sicko (left back)
Qualification for Poland/Sweden 2023: Co-hosts
History in tournament: 1958: 5th, 1967: 12th, 1970: 14th, 1974: 4th, 1978: 5th, 1982: 3rd, 1986: 14th, 1990: 11th, 2003: 10th, 2007: 2nd, 2009: 3rd, 2011: 8th, 2013: 9th, 2015: 3rd, 2017: 17th, 2019: 13th
Group at Poland/Sweden 2023: Group B (France, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia)