Polonia believe despite Champions League first leg loss
23rd October 2019
IBB Polonia London were defeated on their Champions League debut but still believe they can turn it round in next week's second leg.
As they became the first ever English team to feature in the Champions League, Polonia lost out in straight sets to Croatian champions Mladost Zagreb (25-11, 25-17, 25-14).
While it may tough introduction to Europe's highest level of club volleyball, Polonia are confident that the backing of a home crowd for the second leg - which you can get your tickets to be part of - can see them progress.
Evangelos Koutouleas, head coach of IBB Polonia London: “For us this was a difficult game. The league in the UK is not as strong as this one. We have played a few friendly matches, but not enough. We missed Giba and three more players. We will be a different team when we will play back in London.”
It's a belief that is echoed by Koutouleas's players after the game which was played out in front of 550 fans at the Dom Odbojke Bojan Stranic in Zagreb - the home of Croatian Volleyball.
Team captain Bartosz Kisielewicz, said: “This is our debut match in the CEV Champions League. We are not as experienced as our opponent. I believe we can do better than we did in this match. Now we have 7-8 days for the recovery. We will fight on our home court, in front of our supporters. I am sure it will look different than today.”
While the defeat was a disappointment there were some impressive individual performances from Polonia, including from Mihail Stoev who hit 14 spikes and made 1 block in an eye-catching performance, while Aden Tutton also was highlighted for his receiving. While on a historic night for English volleyball, there were also several English players in the team. You can see the full match squad on the CEV match report.
Next week's second leg promises to be a great affair and IBB Polonia will be hopeful that a bumper crowd can help drive the team to glory. Tickets for the match on Wednesday 30th October can be purchased here.
Polonia will need to take the tie to a golden set and win the decider to advance to round 2 so there's potential for a fairytale night for the English team. Despite his side easing to victory last night, Mladost Zagreb coach Radovan Malević knows next week poses different challenges and is particularly cautious about the impact Brazilian superstar Giba could have on the match.
Radovan Malević said: “I am very satisfied with today’s match. I am absolutely ready for the next match. We are going to London for a win. Congratulations to my players for giving us a very good match. The cohesion of the team was at high level, but it is not yet our maximum.
"I know very well that in London the English team will have the Brazilian player Giba. We are waiting for this match with much focus because Giba is one of the best players in the world.”
Fans of volleyball in England are urged to head to the Copper Box next week to witness Champions League history and see if IBB Polonia London can produce an incredible comeback. Get your tickets now!