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12.06.2013, 10:22
Ukraine miss key players ahead of EHF EURO qualification
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Head coach Andriy Portnoy hopes that his team will be ready to spring a surprise in the matches against Sweden and Poland
 

Ukraine miss key players ahead of EHF EURO qualification

Following two disappointing qualifying matches against Netherlands in April, Ukraine’s men's national team sit at the bottom of group 5 in the EHF EURO 2014 qualification.

However, there is still a very small chance left as also the best third ranked team qualifies for the final tournament in Denmark. It means that Ukraine need to gain some points in the upcoming matches against Sweden (on 12 June) and Poland (on 16 June).

In the lead-up to these crucial qualifiers Ukraine beat Belarus 27:26 on 8 June and drew with them 30-all the next day, but several of the squad's will miss out on the qualification matches.

"70 per cent of our main squad will those last two qualifying encounters," says Andriy Portnoy, the 53-year-old head coach of Ukraine.

"There are different reasons, but I can’t count on key players such as Sergey Onufrienko, Nikolay Stetsura, Alexandr Shevelev, Sergey Burka, Artem Vishnevsky.

"Without experienced players our tactical opportunities are not that large. It will be very difficult to resist against Sweden and even harder against Poland because that's an away match. But I usually hope for real men’s character of my players.

“We have a chance to reach the third place in our group. I understand that it will be hard, but we must try," added Portnoy.

Fresh Ukrainian national with Motor Zaporozhye and the best winger of the domestic championship, Evgeniy Zhuk, is optimistic about his team's future.

"I believe that we have the possibility to spring a surprise. “The fact that we miss those players might make us more aggressive on the court," says the 22-year-old.

"I understand that both games against Sweden and Poland will be extremely hard for us, but if we make all our coaches' plans happen, we have a chance for success. I think with home support we can hope for a positive result against Sweden." 

Despite slight injuries Gennadiy Komok and Mikhail Tsap joined the preparation camp in the very last moment.

However, only 15 Ukrainian players have prepared for the EHF EURO 2014 qualifications matches against Sweden and Poland

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

Court players:  Artem Yevdokymov, Alexandr Pedan, Andrey Vasyuk (all – Dinamo Poltava), Evgeniy Zhuk, Mikhail Tsap (all – Motor), Mikhail Krivchikov,  Dmitry Turchenko (all – ZTR), Artem Kozakevych, Alexandr Youzhbabenko (all – Portovik), Dmitry Doroshchuk, Vladyslav Ostroushko (all – Dinamo Minsk, BLR), Oleg Kumogorodsky (Permskie medvedi, RUS)


TEXT: Igor Grachov / ts
 
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