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21.08.2012, 15:51
Spain ideal test for EHF EURO 2012 hosts
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Serbia’s coach wants warm-up matches with Olympic bronze medal winners
 

Spain ideal test for EHF EURO 2012 hosts

Having been granted the privilege to host the Women’s EHF EURO 2012, Serbia are aware that they have plenty of catching up to do if they are to make an impact on home soil in what will be a fiercely competitive 16-team tournament in four cities.

Not by any means one of the giants in women’s handball, Serbia will need as many tough tests as they can get prior to the European Championship, at least to see where they stand against the top teams.

Hence their coach Sasa Boskovic is looking forward to first stage of the build-up period in the first week of October, when he plans to invite Olympic bronze medal winners Spain to play a pair of friendlies with his team.

With three of Spain’s key performers playing their club handball for Serbian champions Zajecar, Boskovic hopes the Spaniards will also welcome the opportunity to test his team’s credentials as well as their own, ahead of EHF EURO 2012. 

“We know that we will play them in December, shortly before the European Championship begins, but we want another two games with them if possible and it would be fantastic if we could have them here in Serbia as our gests from October 1-7 during the EHF week,” Boskovic told Belgrade daily Sportski Zurnal.

“Our final preparations for EHF EURO 2012 will start on November 18 and I will announce my provisional squad of 28 players this week,” he added.

“There will be one or two new names to inject some fresh blood into the team but the backbone will remain intact, based on players who carried us through the qualifying campaign.”

Boskovic acknowledged Serbia’s priorities changed after they were named the tournament’s hosts, having elaborated that the bar has gone up.

“Our original objective was to build a team capable of a podium finish on home soil in next year’s IHF World Championship, but having been named the European Championship hosts after the Netherlands pulled out, we now have to do well in this competition too. There are no guarantees because we have preciously little time and a very tight schedule,” he said.

Serbia were drawn in Preliminary Round Group A alongside Olympic, world and European champions Norway, Czech Republic and Ukraine, with three teams from each of the four groups advancing to the Main Round. Boskovic underscored the Czechs and the Ukrainians were both an unknown quantity to his team, while he readily admitted that Norway would be a mountain to climb.

“Any talk about Norway would be superfluous because we all know how strong they are. They are the odds-on favourites to retain the title, but we need to learn more about the other two teams. We will do some more research about Ukraine while the Czech Republic is quite simply uncharted territory, because we’ve never seen them in action. It’s difficult to gather any kind of relevant information about their quality but we have to find a way,” said Boskovic.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic
 
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