Salamakha chases experience
Valentyna Salamakha is an experienced goalkeeper who, despite her Azerbaijan nationality, has played most of her career in the Ukraine. But last summer she caught the eye of Germany's Bayer 04 Leverkusen and signed a two-year contract.
Meanwhile, with Azerbaijan she has focused on improving her game and achieving better results in the EHF EURO qualifications.
After having met two of the strongest teams, Germany and Hungary, in the first two rounds, they now face two matches against Belarus.
The 25-year-old talks to ehf-euro.com about her life in Germany and her experiences of the EHF EURO qualifications.
ehf-euro.com: You’ve been playing for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Germany since last summer. How was your move from Zaporozhye and how have you settled in a new country?
Valentyna Salamakha: Everything is great in Germany and around me. I’ve been made to feel very welcome and I feel very good at Leverkusen.
ehf-euro.com: In the EHF EURO qualifications Azerbaijan met two of the strongest group opponents, in Germany and Hungary. What memories do you have from those games?
Valentyna Salamakha: Despite losing both games, I have mostly positive memories. As a team we gave our best in both of those matches and collected lots of important experiences. It´s always good to face high-class national teams.
ehf-euro.com: As you play at club level in Germany, was the game against some of your domestic colleagues a special match for you?
Valentyna Salamakha: It´s a strange feeling to meet your team-mates when they are on the opposite side. In such cases you need to re-think the situation and see them as the opposition instead of friends. When the game is finished, you are friends again. Only this way can you perform at international level.
ehf-euro.com: What kind of goals do you have with Azerbaijan?
Valentyna Salamakha: We aim to get to the highest level of international women´s handball, and then to prove that we belong there.
ehf-euro.com: What do the games against very strong teams mean to you and your team-mates?
Valentyna Salamakha: We mustn’t get discouraged about defeats, but continue gaining experience, which can be very important for future games.
ehf-euro.com: What does it mean for you to play for Azerbaijan?
Valentyna Salamakha: I´m very proud that as a player I can represent my country at international events.
ehf-euro.com: In Round 3 and 4 of the EHF EURO qualifications you´ll play two games against Belarus. What kind of chance do you have against them?
Valentyna Salamakha: Belarus have proved that they can certainly compete against strong national teams. But I don’t see us as having no chance. But we have to train hard, play stronger, and improve our game plan to stand a good chance against opponents like them.
Find more information on the Women's EHF EURO 2012 Qualification HERE.
View more detailed information on the event on the Official EHF EURO 2012 Website.
TEXT: Márk Hegedüs