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23.10.2013, 11:50
Ukraine underprepared, but full of spirit
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NEWS REPORT: In a dangerous group and with a lack of suitable build up, Leonid Ratner will need to put all of his expertise to use in Ukraine's opening qualifiers
 

Ukraine underprepared, but full of spirit

After missing the World Championship for the second time in a row, Ukraine’s women are looking to put it right with EHF EURO 2014 qualification.

Ukraine are one of the six teams to have never missed out on an EHF EURO Final Tournament, taking part in 10 from 10 editions, but can they do it once again?

If they are to do it, experienced coach Leonid Ratner will be needed more than ever. Ratner has already led the side to five previous championships (1996, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2012).

Ratner began with changes in coaching staff. Former first assistant Georgy Voronov, who was part of the team in Serbia, moved to Kazakhstan to work with club Astana. His new assistant is 41-year-old Borys Petrovsky, head coach of Karpaty Uzhgorod.

Far from perfect for Ratner

The team began preparation on 18 October in Zaporozhye – nearly 600 km from Kiev.

“Despite the troubles getting our team together, all of the players arrived to represent their country,” said Ratner.

“Our captain Anastasiia Pidpalova from Metz was the last to join us on 21 October after her Champions League match, so we have only had a full team for a few trainings.

“Another problem and more importantly are the injuries of key defenders Olga Peredery and Olga Vashchuk. Both have undergone operations, so now we are searching for solid pair of central defenders and it is the most pressing problem,” explained Ratner.

Welcome news for the team is the return of line player Valeriia Zoria, who has recovered from a long-term injury, but the coach is still unhappy with the preparation.

“We didn't play any friendly matches and know nothing about our rivals Lithuania and Austria. Denmark are the undisputed favourites in our group, while the other three teams will be fighting for second place,” said the 75-year-old.

One of the best left-handed universal player Olga Nikolayenko confident that even in a bad situation, there is potential for success.

“We must take four points in close matches against Lithuania and Austria even though we know nothing about the teams and their current strength.

“The last time I faced Lithuania was in the Turchin Cup 2010 (35:20) and Austria in 2009 World Championship in China (32:31), where we won both matches.

“Our strength lies in goalkeeper Nataliya Parkhomenko and the entire right side, as well as Viktoria Borshchenko on the left wing.

“Am I ready to play as playmaker? Piece of cake. Also in the wing position if our coach decides,” Olga Nikolayenko concluded with a smile.

Ukraine’s head-to-head record against Lithuania is positive – two victories and one loss. However, with Austria it is negative, losing four official matches from five.      

Ukraine begin their campaign in Zaporozhye against Lithuania on 24 October and then travel to Austria to face them on 27 October in Krems.

Ukraine squad for their Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification matches:

Goalkeeper: Natalya Parkhomenko (Lada, RUS), Dariia Matviienko (Konak Belediyesi, TUR), Olexandra Krebs (HC Slovan Duslo Sala, SLK);

Left wing: Viktoriya Borshchenko (Rostov-Don, RUS), Viktoriya Bel'mas (Dnepryanka);

Right wing: Iuliia Managarova (Rostov-Don, RUS);

Left back: Anastasiia Pidpalova (Metz, FRA), Anna Redka (Gomel, BLR), Iryna Stelmakh (Galytchanka); Iuliia Andriichuk (Lada, RUS); Olena Umanets (Karpaty);

Right back: Olga Nikolayenko (Budapest Bank, HUN), Olga Laiuk (Muratpasha Belediyesi, TUR);

Centre back: Iryna Glibko (CSM Bucuresti, ROM);

Line player: Iryna Shutskaya (CSM Bucuresti, ROM); Yaroslava Burlachenko (Cankaya Belediesi , TUR); Valeriia Zoria (EB Start Elbag, POL).


TEXT: Igor Grachov / cor
 
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