Text: Dave Burch
Visual Editing: Daniel Silva
Following the departure of seven players, the Expats have been busy recruiting ahead of their maiden season in A Klasa. Five new faces have joined the Dragoons squad for the 2022/23 season so far.
Bartek Chowaniec 🇵🇱
Our first new signing of the season sees Bartek Chowaniec join the Expats from B Klasa outfit Albertus.
Bartek has been a perennial pain in the Dragoons derriere, scoring for fun against the Expats whenever the sides met. He finished last season as the top goal-scorer in B Klasa with 28 goals in 21 games. The Expats moved fast to capture his signature to lead the line in the forthcoming season.
The Polish forward has bags of pace as well as a trick or two to leave defenders for dead. Bartek also possesses a good eye for goal and will be an important member of the squad.
Following the annual end of season trip to Warsaw, Bartek showed great stamina on the nights out and lovingly received the Anglicised moniker of “Barry”. Baz has already notched his first goal in the blue jersey, scoring the opening goal in the Puchar Polski penalty defeat to Rafis.
Barry started playing football at age 12 for his home-town club LKS Poroniec. He played 6/7 years for the youth team – amazingly at centre back!
After moving to Kraków, Barry played in the Biznesliga and later joined Albertus in 2020. Chowaniec is a fan of FC Barcelona and counts Carles Puyol as his footballing idol.
After snapping up the former Albertus man, Head Coach Ashvin Asani said: “We’ve watched Barry for a while, he’s a quick young goal-scorer that could provide a real cutting edge up front. He’s also got dynamism to play as a wide forward and his youth means he’s got real potential to develop into an even better player”.
Szymon Urzędowski 🇵🇱
The Dragoons have added a further Polish national to the side with Szymon Urzędowski. Like Chowaniec, Szymon joins the Expats from Albertus – another opposition player that impressed the Dragoons coaching staff.
Szymon is extremely versatile and played a number of different positions for his former side. A real workhorse, Urzędowski adds an abundance of strength and depth to the Dragoons squad. We cannot confirm or deny if this is the reason behind his new nickname of Gremlin!
Urzędowski did not play or train with any football club until the age of 20, but had played 6/7 side football with friends since the age of seven. After moving to Kraków, Szymon played in the Biznesliga, where he met Barry Chowaniec and both joined Albertus in 2020.
The resourceful midfielder is a fan of former English Giants Manchester United. He particularly enjoyed the performances of Wayne Rooney and also enjoyed watching Ronaldinho in his prime.
Fun fact: both Barry and Grem almost joined the Dragoons in January 2022. They trialled with the club, attended training sessions, but agreed to continue playing for Albertus until the end of the season.
Szymon also mentioned that he has only scored six goals in his career. But he particularly enjoyed scoring twice on the final day of the 20/21 season against the Expats. A third goal followed last season as he smashed home a penalty in the Dragoons 4-2 triumph away at Albertus. The utility man added his sixth strike on his debut for the Dragoons in the cup defeat against Rafis, putting in an impressive performance to earn man of the match. Sadly, Szymon missed the decisive spot-kick, but we will try and forget about that!
On the arrival of Urzędowski, Ash Asani commented: “Szymon is of a similar edge as Barry. His previous team basically played him everywhere but I can see him challenging for a midfield spot. He’s got a real engine on him, he’s very good on the turn and keeps things ticking over. He plays smart and simply, is still young and can improve a lot”.
Marcin Obyrtacz 🇵🇱
A third signing from Albertus sees goalkeeper Marcin Obyrtacz follow Barry Chowaniec and Szymon Urzędowski to join the club. Despite conceding seven goals the last time the sides met, the Polish stopper performed admirably. He pulled off a number of excellent saves, as well as denying Scott Halcrow from the penalty spot.
Obyrtacz started his footballing journey in 2002, when he joined LKS Orawa Jabłonka. The keeper spent 7 years with Orawa before taking a break from football.
In 2016, Marcin resumed his playing career joining B Klasa outfit Albertus. He spent 6 years with the side before deciding to try his arm in A Klasa with the Dragoons. The goalkeeper will add competition to the squad following Jacob Biddlecombe’s departure.
Marcin calls Juventus and Wisła Kraków his favourite football teams. He classes his favourite players of all time as Gigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, Kuba Błaszczykowski and Paweł Brożek.
Ash Asani showered praise on his new signing: “Marcin is a front footed keeper who had an impressive performance against us despite the score. He fits our style of play, he’s a proactive and vocal goalkeeper. We think he can improve more and will challenge for the number 1 spot in the team”.
Ruben Mendes 🇵🇹
A further new signing sees Ruben Mendes join the Dragoons.
Mendes is well known to the squad having played with several of the Expats players whilst residing in Kraków. The versatile Portugal national had been training with the Dragoons and impressed in a recent trial match.
Ruben brings a wealth of experience to the side and will add strong competition for a starting berth.
His passion for football started at a young age. His step-father played amateur football and dreamed of watching Ruben play football professionally.
Born in Lisbon, Mendes joined SCLV (Sporting Club Linda-a-Velha), a satellite club of Sporting Lisbon.
A promising striker, Ruben had a love for goalscoring and earnt the nickname of former FC Porto goal machine, Jardel.
In 2003, Mendes helped his side win the first regional division at under 15 level in Lisbon and a year later joined Domingos de Sávio. Fun fact: Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma started his youth career at Domingos in 1991 before joining the famed academy of Sporting CP in 1994.
Professional Dream Over
Sadly, at the tender age of 18, a back injury saw Mendes’ dream of playing professionally collapse. He decided to take a break from the beautiful game to focus on his studies and career, graduating in IT and Business Management.
Following a job opportunity arising in Kraków in 2012, Ruben moved to Poland and fell in love with the city. He restarted his footballing journey in both the Kraków Sunday League and in various 6/7-a-side leagues.
Motivated by the Dragoons team-spirit and by playing the 11-a-side game once again, Mendes is looking forward to pulling on the blue jersey.
Ruben is a huge fan of 30-time Portuguese Primeira Liga outfit FC Porto and is proud to represent another club with a Dragon as its symbol. His idols growing up were the aforementioned Brazilian Jardel, the magical Deco and of course the one and only CR7.
On completing the signing of Mendes, Ash Asani remarked: “Ruben is someone many have known in the team, having played with and against him in various small sided games/tournaments. He’s a dedicated person willing to learn and we can see that he can be an asset in the fullback positions and even further forward”.
Jordi Badolato 🇮🇹
Also joining the club is Swiss born full-back Jordi Badolato. Jordi joins the club following a successful trial after a recommendation from Enrico Forabosco.
Jordi started playing football at an early age in Switzerland, before moving to Rome at the age of 7. He played a lot of football at junior level and represented regional side Vis Garbatella before moving to Kraków recently.
A huge A.S. Roma fan, Jordi mentioned that legendary forward Francesco Totti is his footballing idol.
Badolato is excited to be joining the club and said he is looking forward to giving his all in the Dragoons jersey.
After securing the services of the multitalented full-back Ash Asani opined “Jordi performed very well at the trial and we could see he had really good technical ability. He’s a full–back by trade, smart in his positioning and gets up and down the pitch”.
Ceri Looker 🏴
A fifth and final signing for now sees Englishman Ceri Looker return to the Dragoons.
Ceri originally represented the Expats in the COVID hit 2019/20 season. Playing primarily as the midfield anchor-man, Looker made nine appearances and notched one goal. His solitary strike came against Albertus, latching onto Alexey Zelenkin’s flick-on to thump the ball into the net at the far post.
Of his previous time with club, Looker found one moment in the 2-1 defeat against Bratniak particularly memorable. With the Dragoons trailing in the last minute, keeper Gabi Muñoz saw red. As the keeper looked to clear the ball away, an opposition player collided with the Chilean. The opposition player floored the stopper with a headbutt; however, it was Muñoz who received his marching orders!
Injury prevented the midfielder from making any further appearances, but is now back in Kraków to compete for a starting berth.
Ceri is a fan of Manchester United and particularly enjoyed the Ferguson years.
Ash Asani welcomed the return of the Englishman: “Ceri is a former Dragoon that left due to injury and COVID. He’s a very vocal player that is flexible enough to play in defence and midfield. His eye for a pass and execution is amongst the best in the squad. He’s another one I can see competing in the number 8 spot due to his great technical ability”.
Back in the Game
Kuba Drobny 🇵🇱
Whilst not a new signing, coach Jakub Drobny has decided to dedicate himself to the playing side. Drobny originally joined the Dragoons in the 20/21 season, but injuries curtailed his game time.
The Pole has pulled on the an Expats jersey on nine occasions scoring once.
Kuba memorably scored a tremendous free-kick away at Wawel. The midfielder hit a beautiful wind assisted cross into the top corner!
Despite holding a coaching licence, Kuba feels fitter than he ever has. The midfield man has already made his return to action recently in the cup defeat to Rafis. With the chance to secure the Dragoons passage to the second round in front of him, Drobny stepped up to take the potential winning spot kick. Sadly for the Dragoons, Kuba decided to pick his favourite past time and hit the bar instead. We look forward to see him in A Klasa, with better luck at hitting the target!
The Dragoons squad for this season is comprised of 36 players from 19 different nationalities, with an average age of 30 years.
33Dmytro Kontsevyi (ukr)
1Gabriel Muñoz (chi)
99Marcin Obyrtacz (pol)
3Alexey Zelenkin (blr)
6Brian Lemmen (ned)
18Edoardo Battaglion (ita)
16Francesco Leuci (ita)
Hugo Cruz (por)
29Jordi Badolato (ita)
2Josh Dawson (eng)
13Kuba Drobny (pol)
34Michael Lamb (sco)
7Michał Nowak (pol)
19Piotr Hajnrych (pol)
21Robert Ambrosie (rou)
77Ruben Mendes (por)
5Simon Calabrese (ita)
26Temo Loladze (geo)
27Ceri Looker (eng)
20Daniel Silva (por)
15David Nicolas (fra)
35Emre Çolakoğlu (tur)
8Enrico Forabosco (fin/ita)
22Jean Irenée (cod)
23Mark Szczesnowicz (pol/aus)
25Rob Smits (ned)
4Scott Halcrow (eng)
97Szymon Urzędowski (pol)
29Vałdzis Fuhaš (blr)
93Alessio Sassini (ita)
24Andrea Latino (ita)
44Bartek Chowaniec (pol)
94Błażej Święcicki (pol)
28Cedrick Mwamba (cod)
61Emre Bezirkan (tur)
10Flavio Nkola (ang)
32Jamie Beattie (eng)
17Joaquin Serrano (esp)
30Martin Voženílek (cze)
11Rohit Chandran (ind)
9Yuri Samyonov (isr)
The Dragoons technical team is led by manager Ashvin Asani 🏴, assisted by coaches Hugo Cruz 🇵🇹, Diego Villanueva 🇧🇷, Alex Băcica 🇷🇴 and Scott Halcrow 🏴.