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18.10.2013, 13:27
Netherlands don't change a winning team
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MATCH PREVIEW: Despite injuries to Lois Abbing and Sanne van Olphen Netherlands believe they will be strong enough to make a big step towards the EHF EURO 2014 when their qualification throws off on October 23
 

Netherlands don't change a winning team

Netherlands will open their Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification campaign with the same team that reached the World Championship after stunning Russia in the play-offs in June.

Dutch women’s head coach Henk Groener has added no new names to his 21-player squad for the Group 4 games against Italy in Rotterdam on Wednesday (23 October) and Turkey in Ankara four days later.

However, back court players Lois Abbingh (VfL Oldenburg) and Sanne van Olphen (SønderjyskE) are out with injuries.

Abbingh, who led the team with seven goals in the decisive game against Russia, underwent surgery after suffering from a left knee injury. The 21-year-old hopes to return in time for the World Championships 2013 that throw off on December 7 in Serbia.

Van Olphen is recovering from a broken wrist. Both players are expected back when EHF EURO 2014 Qualification resumes in March with the Netherlands facing Spain in a home and away double-header.

Relying on own strengths

Groener is optimistic about the Dutch chances in the upcoming matches. "I am glad we don’t share a group with teams like Slovenia and Poland. Now we are in a group from which we should advance to the European Championship if we rely on our own strengths," the coach says.

Seeing Spain as the strongest opponent, Groener believes the Netherlands need a good start this week. "Looking at the results from recent years, I think Italy are the weakest team in the group.

"We play Turkey four days later, which will be a key match for us. If we win, we’ll have taken a huge step."

Left back Jessy Kramer shares her coach’s optimism: "Italy never reaches major tournaments, it’s not really a handball nation. I don’t think we will have too many problems against them but we won’t underestimate them either," Kramer says.

"Turkey is from a different level. It will get really loud in Ankara. They have some good players and they will absolutely go for it, just like us."

The Netherlands beat Turkey twice (40:28 / 38:34) during the World Championship play-offs two years ago.

"Turkey have added a lot of young talents since but the key players are still the same," Groener says. "The two best teams from the group will qualify and I think we are one of them."

Extra support

Starting against Italy, the Netherlands will play all home games at Topsportcentrum Rotterdam. Groener emphasizes the importance to stick with the same venue.

"For the girls, this venue makes them feel at home. The good thing is you have no distractions. You know what to expect, you know the floor, the lightning. That’s an advantage which enables you to improve your preparations.

"The fans who keep coming back here will also feel at home. That creates extra support for the team."

Last month, Groener extended his contract as women’s head coach with another three years until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. And just days ago, the Dutch Handball Federation appointed Groener and his assistant Peter Portengen as coaches of the national women’s under-20 team as well.

The youth team will play the qualification for the Women's U20 World Championship in April. While coaching both teams, Groener and Portengen can now prepare the many Dutch talents even better for their eventual move to the A-team.

The Netherland’s 21-player squad for the EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers against Italy and Turkey:

Goalkeepers: Marieke van der Wal (Cergy Pontoise Handball '95), Tess Wester (VfL Oldenburg), Jasmina Jankovic (Frisch Auf Göppingen)

Wingers: Debbie Bont (HC Leipzig), Ailly Luciano (Metz Handball), Martine Smeets (Thüringen HC), Michelle Goos (Succes Schoonmaak/VOC), Sharina van Dort (Sercodak/Dalfsen), Angela Malestein (HSG Blomberg-Lippe)

Line players: Yvette Broch (Metz Handball), Danick Snelder (Thüringer HC), Fabienne Logtenberg (Sercodak/Dalfsen)

Back court players: Laura van der Heijden (VfL Oldenburg), Kelly Dulfer (Schuler Afbouwgroep/D.O.S.), Jessy Kramer (Vipers Kristiansand), Nycke Groot (FC Midtjylland), Estavana Polman (Team Esbjerg), Lotte Prak (Koblenz/Weiberen), Roxanne Bovenberg (Westfriesland/SEW), Isabelle Jongenelen (HSG Blomberg-Lippe), Lynn Knippenborg (Sercodak/Dalfsen)


TEXT: Eric Willemsen / ts
 
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