“It’s really a great dream”
A few hours before MONDIAL-2023 kicks off against Poland (a first for him), the former left-back from Berchem admits.
At the age of 23, Ariel Pietrasik will experience his first world championship with the Polish national team. A new step in the young career of the player (also a citizen of Luxembourg) passed Berchem and now plays in Switzerland, near Saint-Gall.
After the European championships in 2022, the world championships this year… is it a logical continuation?
Ariel Pietrasik: No, not at all! The 2022 European Championship was a small, even a big surprise. There were a lot of injured players and covid cases. In December, I had a chance to show myself in a tournament, I didn’t know that I would play here in Poland in the European championships, and now in the world championship. This is a really big dream for me, because 5-6 years ago we talked about it with my parents, we said that it is a big goal for me to be here. I’m really proud to be involved now!
How did you feel when you learned your choice?
I am honored and proud to be able to play for my country. I am bound to Poland. My family was also very happy to hear this, which makes me very happy too.
It’s even more special because you’ll be playing at home…
We played two friendlies here, in April and May (Editor’s note: in March) against Sweden. I think there were 4000-5000 people. This is really impressive! Also, I get chills when the national anthem is played. It is a very beautiful thing!
So are you expecting a hellish atmosphere?
The first two matches are already sold out. There will be 11,000 spectators against France. I have never played in front of so many people!
You have played two friendlies. How was your preparation?
We played in 4 Nations Cups from December 28 to 30 and a small tournament from January 4 to 6. There were competitors who also participated in the world championships, but not as strong as France and Slovenia. It was more about finding 18 players to make the team and showing off a little bit to the players who weren’t playing. It was also a great chance to prove myself again, because it was not certain that I would play in this World Cup.
The main goal is to qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024
What is Poland’s goal in this World Cup?
The main goal is to qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024. Eighth place is our minimum target. I also think that it is possible with ninth or tenth place, but with eighth place it would be correct.
What do you hope for as an individual?
It would be great if I could play a few minutes anyway, because this year we are fully prepared and there are some well-known players in my position. I would be happy to play a little. But I am happy to be here already, to have this great experience, and in a few years I will be more experienced.
For your first game, Poland will face the France of the Karabatik brothers. How does it feel to spend a few hours playing an encounter like this?
Nikola Karabatic is a big idol for me. When I was little, I wanted to play like him, to have his level, and now I play against him. I don’t understand it yet, but if I play a few games like this, it will be more real for me.
Then it will be against Slovenia and Saudi Arabia, perhaps the two more profitable countries…
We know that after the second stage we have to be at least second to qualify for the top eight, so we have to win all the matches, then we have to win the match against Spain or France, which won’t be easy. to know But we think that we can always surprise the audience who will help us.
Your father (Editor’s note: Grzegorz Pietrasik is Museldall’s coach) could he visit to encourage you?
My family is 2 hours from here (Editor’s note: Katowice). My parents will be there between the Slovenia game and until the end of the second leg. He (Editor’s note: his father) took a short leave of absence. He asked someone to replace him and I think everyone understands that. (laughs).
Group B: France, Poland, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia
Program : Tonight (21:00): France – Poland, 14/01 (20:30): Poland – Slovenia, 16/01 (20:30): Poland – Saudi Arabia.