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31.03.2013, 13:37
Latvians humble, but ready to surprise
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Kristopans ready for emotional doubleheader
 

Latvians humble, but ready to surprise

Latvia will face Slovakia in a make or break doubleheader for both teams, yet without a point, in Dobele on 3 April at 18:05 CET, with the reverse tie to be played  in Považská Bystrica four days later at 17:00 CET.

Latvia, just like their opponents Slovakia, lost their first two games, in Hungary 25:32 and at home against the bronze medallists from the last EHF EURO, Croatia 23:30.

The upcoming fixtures against Slovakia will therefore be crucial for the Latvians, if they want to keep their hopes alive for a small miracle in this emerging handball nation.

The match will be a special one for Dianis Kristopans, a Latvian international playing for Slovakian league champions and EHF Cup participant Tatran Prešov. 

“I am looking forward this match and I have had it in mind for quite some time. To be honest, I feel nervous. It will be very extraordinary for me.

“I have lot of friends here, I know most of the Slovakian players in the national team and to play against Slovakia will always feel different.

“Slovakia became my home and I like the country very much. At the same time I feel very excited and recently I am thinking about these two matches intensively,” Dainis Kristopans told ehf-euro.com before traveling to Latvia for the national team camp.

Latvia is certainly not a favourite in this clash and they are well aware of it, but two decent performances against Croatia and Hungary give them the right to feel self-confident.

“We want to get some points in these two matches against Slovakia. Our federation and the whole handball family in Latvia wish to make at least a point at home. The first match will show us our limits,” stated the 23-year-old back.

Having a good knowledge of your opponent makes your life on the court certainly easier and Dainis Kristopans is ready to share his thoughts on Slovakia’s strengths with Latvian coach Valdis Labanovskis.

“Of course, living in Slovakia I follow their national team. They have made some remarkable results in the past and they are big favourites in the match against us, but we will try to find our way to surprise them. Anything is possible.”

“Slovakia have great individuals, but most importantly they are strong as a team. We cannot make any mistakes in the back, otherwise they will punish us on counter attacks. Up front, we have to be very patient, in defence very tough and quick.”

“We had lot of fun in the past few days with my Prešov team mates talking about the match, joking and having silly comments about each other.

“But during the match friendship goes aside. We are rivals, enemies,” explains Kristopans.

The Latvian national team will hold their first training session on 1 April. Coach Valdis Labanovskis has invited 23 players, amongst them is Mārtiņš Dāvidnieks, who could make his debut in the national team. The 20-year-old spent this season with Swedish club Täby HK.

Latvian squad for the EHF EURO 2014 qualifying matches against Slovakia on 3 and 7 April:

Goalkeepers: Artūrs Kuģis (SV Beckdorf,GER), Helmuts Tihanovs (LSPA/NB SAN), Edgars Kukša (VfL Fredenbeck, GER)

Wingers:  Armands Uščins (Dessau-Rosslauer HV, GER), Mārtiņš Dāvidnieks (Taby HK,SWE), Jānis Pavlovičs (SG INSIGNIS Westwien, AUT) ,Ēriks Blūms (VfL Edewecht, GER),

Backcourt players: Aivis Jurdžs (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, GER), Austris Tuminskis (SK Latgols), Ģirts Lilienfelds (ThSV EisenachGER), Jānis Gremzde (TB 03 Roding,GER), Dainis Krištopāns (Tatran Prešov, SVK), Evars Klešniks (GWD Minden, GER),  Oskars Arājs (Dobeles Tenax, Jānis Grišanovs (TV Jahn Duderstadt, GER), Kaspars Lisovskis (SK Latgols), Gatis Kozlovs (SK Latgols), Andis Ērmanis (LSPA/NB SAN), Elvijs Borodovskis (HV Kremer/Hurry-Up, NED)

Line players: Ingars Dude (HG Saarlouis,GER), Margots Valkovskis (HSC Bad Neustadt,GER), Egils Politers (Dobeles Tenax), Uldis Lībergs (Sandefjord, Norway)


TEXT: Tomáš Čunčík / cor
 
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