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09.10.2013, 17:26
Althaus: "We will push the pedal to the metal"
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NEWS REPORT: Germany's most experienced player is ready to take it to Russia in their opening EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers
 

Althaus: "We will push the pedal to the metal"

Despite some injury problems in her team, the experienced German line player is confident before the start of the EHF EURO 2014 qualification against Russia

Anja Althaus hopes that her personal homecoming will end in a successful German start to qualification for the EHF EURO 2014. The line player, who will have her 213th international match against Russia on 23 October, started her famous career with club side DJK/MJC Trier, and the Arena Trier is the venue for the game against the Russians.

“Nothing can go wrong at Trier – as usual,” is Althaus’ opinion. It is the third time that Germany will play a qualification match in this arena and they have left the court victorious on each occasion.

In the World Championship qualifier against Bulgaria in 2003, Althaus was in the squad, but had to watch the match from the stands, in the EHF EURO 2012 qualifier against Hungary she was on court –and celebrated the crucial step towards Serbia.

Captaincy not an issue

When the Germans face Russia, Althaus will be the most experienced player in her squad – the only one with more than 200 caps and as team captain Isabell Klein (Buxtehude) and substitute goalkeeper Katja Schülke (Leipzig) are both pregnant, Althaus could be set to lead the Germans for the first time in her career as team captain on the court, but that doesn’t cross her mind much.

“This is a decision of our coach Heine Jensen. Regardless if I wear this captain’s armband or not I will play my role and give my best,” confirmed the 31-year-old.

A successful start against the Russians, which includes a re-match only four days later at Astrachan, could already pave the way to Croatia and Hungary. FYR Macedonia Germany’s second opponent and two teams will secure a berth for the final tournament.

“We will try everything to win both matches, although we know that both hurdles are very high. We want to make a huge step towards the EHF EURO.

“Russia will be eager to prove that missing the World Championship in Serbia was a single failure and especially the return of coach Jewgeny Trefilov will set the team on fire,” says Althaus.

Unfortunately for the Germans, not only Schülke and Klein will be missing the qualification matches, but also the tall back court aces Nadja Nadgornaja and Kim Naidzinavicius.  

“It is a real setback for us that my Thüringer HC teammate Nadgornaja will be out, but still we are confident that we can grab our chances against the Russians,” says Althaus, who she sees her team in an upswing.

“The EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia was the turning point. Despite a weak start we managed to finish in seventh position and were the only team to beat eventual champions Montenegro.

Those results and later the easy qualification for the World Championship in Serbia boosted our confidence. We will push the pedal to the metal against Russia,” she promises.

Setting the record straight

The personal statistics of Anja Althaus against Trefilov coached teams is negative: at the EHF EURO 2008 in FYR Macedonia she lost the bronze medal match against Russia and in 2004 she lost both EHF Champions League matches against Lada Togliatti with her former club Trier.

The circle will complete for the German line player and Trefilov with the qualifier on 23 October, as both are the last “survivors” of those EHF Champions League matches.

In 2007 Althaus transferred to the Danish side Viborg HK, winning the Europe’s elite club competition (2009, 2010), in 2012 she returned to Germany, joining double winner Thüringer HC.

Before preparation for the match against Russia begins, she will be given a stern test in the Women’s EHF Champions League at home against defending champions Györ.

“From the moment, when we leave the hall in Nordhausen, only Russia will be in our minds,” concludes Althaus.

The German squad for the EHF EURO qualification matches against Russia:

Goalkeepers: Jana Krause (Thüringer HC), Clara Woltering (Buducnost Podgorica/MNE)

Court players: Natalie Augsburg (HC Leipzig), Angie Geschke (VfL Oldenburg), Franziska Mietzner (Thüringer HC), Laura Steinbach (FTC Hungaria Rail Cargo/HUN), Shenia Minevskaja (TuS Metzingen), Kerstin Wohlbold (Thüringer HC), Anna Loerper (VfL Oldenburg), Saskia Lang (HC Leipzig), Susann Müller (HC Leipzig), Anne Hubinger (HC Leipzig), Christine Beier (Spreefüxxe Berlin), Marlene Zapf (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Anja Althaus (Thüringer HC), Anne Müller (HC Leipzig)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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