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22.03.2012, 13:57
Injury-hit Serbia take on Romania in top spot battle
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Injury-hit Serbia take on Romania in top spot battle

The battle for top spot in EHF EURO 2012 qualifying Group 2 will reach boiling point on Thursday (22 March) and Saturday (24 March), when front-runners Romania and Serbia meet in their eagerly-awaited double header.

With both teams looking poised to reach the EHF EURO 2012 finals in the Netherlands in December, their showdown should decide who wins the group and clinches a berth among seeded nations in the 16-team tournament.

The first of their two matches will be played in the central Serbian town of Zajecar, a stronghold of women’s handball where the local team has enjoyed unprecedented success this season. Serbia will miss six players through injury but their right-back Marina Dmitrovic, their only left-handed backcourt player left in the squad, was nonetheless confident the home team could prevail in what is likely to be an enthralling encounter between Balkan neighbours in front of a full house.

“The atmosphere within the team is great, we are raring to go and those of us who are here will do everything in our power to make up for the absence of some key players,” Dmitrovic told Serbia’s daily newspaper Sportski Zurnal.

“Fans in Zajecar always create a fantastic atmosphere and the support from the terraces should drive us on to victory against an excellent Romanian team. We know we have to play them on their own turf on Saturday too but al we are thinking about right now is the home game,” she added.

Both teams have maximum four points from two matches, having beaten underdogs Greece and Portugal in their opening games, meaning that the outcome of their doubleheader is likely to decide the group winner. The match in Serbia will also be a stern test for Romanian goalkeeper Teresa Pislaru, who will face many of her Zajecar team-mates and a home crowd hoping she will be on the receiving end of the scoreline this time.

“We were well beaten by Romania in the Carpathian Cup a while ago but I think the result was not an accurate barometer of our quality because we were exhausted after beating Hungary the day before,” said Serbia’s right wing Katarina Krpez.

“I think we can stand our ground against Romania despite having to field a makeshift side due to all our injury problems,” she added.

An additional problem for Serbia will be the absence of right back Jelena Zivkovic, who fell out with coach Sasa Boskovic and once again failed to turn up after she also missed the game against Portugal. Boskovic has called up Marina Zivkovic to replace her and said the tough would get going when the going gets tough.

“It was her decision and the all I can say is that the girls who did turn up are important,” Boskovic pointed out. “We have plenty of versatile players who can fill in several positions so we will now see what we are made of in these two matches against a strong Romanian team,” he said.

Meanwhile Romania coach Radu Voina sees the upcoming double header against the Serbs as a good opportunity to experiment ahead of the London 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament in Lyon at the end of May, where the Romanians face hosts France, Montenegro and Japan.

“Qualification for the European Championship is practically decided as both Romania and Serbia will in all likelihood reach the final tournament in Holland,” Voina told Romanian media.

“But we still want to finish top of our group and we see both matches with Serbia as an intermediate step towards the main objective of the next period, which is qualification for the Olympic Games,” he added.

“We have several young players and we want to find solutions for the team. I hope some of these new faces will help us in Olympic qualifying when we meet France, Montenegro and Japan.”

Romania will also miss several first-choice players in Zajecar but the bulk of the squad comes from the country’s champions Oltchim Valcea, who have reached the EHF Women’s Champions League semi-finals where they face Hungary’s Gyori AUDI ETO for the right to play in the final.

Further Information

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.
www.ehf-euro.com/NED2012/

 

 


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic (additional reporting by Marius Hutu)
 
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