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01.04.2013, 20:47
Ukraine need to kick start qualification campaign
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A return the EHF EURO championships could be back on the cards with two wins over the Dutch
 

Ukraine need to kick start qualification campaign

In the first two EHF EURO 2014 qualifying encounters in November, Ukraine’s men’s national team ended up without a point.

If Ukraine intend to catch Poland and Sweden, then the upcoming games against the other pointless team in Group 5, Netherlands, are crucial.

In preparation, Ukraine celebrated confident success in friendly matches with a 38:32 win against Belarus followed by a 29:29 draw.

Andrey Portnoy, 52-year-old head coach of the Ukrainians, left his club Dinamo Poltava and has decided to focus only on the men’s national team.

21 players were selected and gathered at the camp near Kiev to begin training for the games on 2 and 7 April.

Two debutants have joined the squad. Evgeniy Sapun’s impressive play in the EHF for HC Motor has attracted the attention of the head coach, as has goalkeeper, Sapun’s teammate, Yuriy Shamrylo.

“This is the first time I gathered all of the best players in the country. They are working with indicative desire, including the five players from Dinamo Minsk, who reached the Last 16 of the Champions League this season.

“I am satisfied with our practice time in Belarus and I want to save that mood against the Netherlands.

“I know that the Netherlands are a well-organised and much disciplined team. They have an active defence and have two top players in the back court. But we understand that two victories are possible for us and the next step will be fighting for the second place in our group,” said head coach Portnoy.  

Right back Sergei Onufrienko missed the opening qualifying games due to an injury to his throwing hand and also family events as he became a father.

“I believe that Ukraine have a little chance to advance in to the EHF EURO 2014. We need four points from the Netherlands and try to defeat Sweden at home in June.

“If Poland will win two games with the Scandinavians – this will be the real way to our breakthrough,” said the 28-year-old.

“I think Ukraine have one of the tallest defenses in Europe and we are about the same age. That is our advantage and we can use it.

“Last year we lost 29:39 to the Dutch in a tournament in Switzerland, but since that time, the essential change was income of a new head coach.

“Andrey Portnoy uses modern tactical schemes and under his wings we start to play quicker and with more variation, especially in transition from defence to attack,” said Onufrienko.

One of the most talented players in the Ukrainian team is 208cm tall Sergei Burka from HC Motor, he gives a frank estimation about the situation in Group 5.

“We are a head taller than Netherlands. But we must be careful. If we want four points we need keep alert in Almere.

“I know how dangerous Adams, for example, can be. But now we have serious strengthening in defence from Dinamo Minsk such as Shevelev and Doroshchuk as well as our captain goalkeeper Vadym Brazhnyk and Gennadiy Komok.

“With the new coach we have it in our mind that we can beat anyone. I was a part of Ukrainian team at the EHF EURO 2010 and I am thirsty to play once again in the finals,” said Burka.

Ukraine also has positive stats against Netherlands. Head-to-head counter in official tournaments are five victories and one defeat.

Ukraine squad for the EHF EURO 2014 qualifications matches against Netherlands on 2 and 7 April:

Goalkeepers:  Vadym Brazhnyk (Dinamo Poltava), Gennadiy Komok (ZTR), Evgeniy Sapun, Yuriy Shamrylo (Motor);

Court players:  Artem Yevdokymov, Alexandr Pedan, Andrey Vasyuk (all – Dinamo Poltava), Sergey Burka, Evgeniy Zhuk, Mikhail Tsap (all – Motor), Mikhail Krivchikov,  Maxsym Karamyshev, Dmitry Turchenko (all – ZTR), Artem Kozakevych (Portovik), Sergei Onufrienko, Dmitry Doroshchuk, Vladyslav Ostroushko, Nikolay Stetsura, Alexandr Shevelev (all – Dinamo Minsk, BLR), Artem Vyshnevskyy (St. Petersburg HC, RUS), Oleg Kumogorodsky (Permskie medvedi, RUS) 


TEXT: Igor Grachov / cor
 
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