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18.03.2014, 13:22
Spain's 'Guerreras' want to secure early qualification
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PREVIEW: The 2012 Olympic bronze medallists eagerly await Netherlands for the EHF EURO 2014 Qualification double-header at the end of March
 

Spain's 'Guerreras' want to secure early qualification

With the bronze medals won at the World Championship 2011 and the London 2012 Olympic Games respectively, Spanish women's handball seemed to be on the upswing.

However, the disappointing 11th rank at the World Championship 2013 put a dent in the proud team's, aptly nicknamed "Guerreras" (warriors), armour.

It is an episode everyone in the team wants to forget as quickly as possible, and the upcoming Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification matches against Netherlands (26 and 30 March) matches are a first step for head coach Jorge Duenas.

"We want to take away the bad taste in our mouths which we still have from the elimination in Serbia," Duenas says.

"We want to get the tickets to the European Championship now because the last qualification games are in June, and the players, probably, will be exhausted at the end of the season."

After two matches have been played, Spain are ranked level with Netherlands with both teams on four points. If Spain win the first leg at Rotterdam and also the reverse fixture on home court in Logrono, they are definitely qualified.

"These two matches will be very complicated. In the past years, Netherlands have improved a lot it handball and nowadays play on top international  level," says Duenas.  

The head coach is worried about the physical condition he will find his players in who gather on 23 March for preparation for the first match.

"We need to set in the tactics very quickly because we have short time to prepare. It is different compared to World Championship or to the European Championship when we have two weeks to get ready."

Duenas more or less trusts the same group of players that he called for the World Championship. There are only three changes.

Centre back Beatriz Escribano, left back Nely Carla Alberto and right wing Carmen Martin are the new arrivals to the team. They replace - compared to the team that played in Serbia - line player Begona Fernandez, left back Nuria Benzal and right wing Jessica Alonso.

Fernandez, the former captain of the team, had announced her retirement from international handball following the World Championship. 

"This has been a very significant loss for the team because she was the captain and the best line player."

The new team captain is Marta Mangué, right back of French Fleury Loiret. She is 30 years old, has 249 internationals under her belt in which she scored 902 goals.

The squad

Goalkeepers: Cristina González (CLEBA León), Silvia Navarro (Rocasa ACE Gran Canaria).

Centre backs: Beatriz Escribano (OGC Nice), Macarena Aguilar (Randers HK).

Right back: Marta Mangué (Fleury Loiret).

Left back: Alexandrina Barbosa (Thüringer HC), Beatriz Fernández (Fleury Loiret), Lara González (Metz HB), Nely Carla Alberto (Fleury Loiret), Nerea Pena (FTC Rail Cargo), Patricia Elorza (Bera Bera), Eli Chávez (OGC Nice)

Right wing: Carmen Martín (Mecalia Atlético Guardés), Marta López (Fleury Loiret)

Left wing: Eli Pinedo (Bera Bera), Naiara Egozkue (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen)


TEXT: Adria Barrio / ts
 
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