Wisła Kraków is a familiar name in European competition, but they are branching out into new territory by staging a UEFA Futsal Cup group this week.
Champions of Poland for the first time last season, Wisła make their competition debut on Wednesday when they face Albania's KS Ali Demi at the Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa in Bochnia with ambitious English newcomers Baku United FC completing Group B. Only the group winners will progress to the main round in October and Wisła player-coach Błażej Korczyński is cautious.
"We are not definitely not favourites, because Baku United seem to be the strongest team in our group," the 35-year-old told UEFA.com. "However, we are prepared to challenge them. We are also good and ambitious.
"If you look at recent transfers made by Baku, you will immediately know how desperate they are to succeed in the UEFA Futsal Cup. They bought nine players from Spain, one Portuguese and one Brazilian. We even joke that before their games they should listen to the Spanish anthem and not the English one!"
Still, Wisła are not averse to foreign signings themselves. "All the players we have brought in are good ones who will help the team," Korczyński said. "Many people say that Brazilian Douglas Alvarelhão, who joined us from Russia, can be the biggest star in our league but I am pretty sure that we will be stronger more as a team than individually."
They should also benefit from home support. "We will not compete in the hall we play in most frequently, but it doesn't matter," Korczyński said. "We have already got used to this one in Bochnia. We played some friendly games there and even had a training camp.
"The hall will be full and the noise will be big. The 350 fans who are the core of our support will create a unique atmosphere and I hope the rest of the supporters will join them and make it even louder."
On the pitch Korczyński adds experience of his own having played in the very first UEFA Futsal Cup in 2001/02 for Clearex Chorzów, later representing KS Baustal Kraków and PA Nova Gliwic in Europe. "I thought about finishing my [playing] career, but the club president said to me, 'No way.' He insisted that I played this season as he wants me to break the Polish league scoring record. I have 299 goals to my name and the best scorer in history, Krzysztof Filipczak, has 308 so my challenge is to overtake him."
The domestic season starts next month but first the UEFA Futsal Cup is his priority, and Korczyński knows his dual role is tough despite having won two of his seven career titles as a player-coach. "It is not easy to have two functions at the same time. When you are a coach but also a player, you must avoid mistakes at any costs and demand even more from yourself than from the others. But I am trying to deal with that."
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