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27.03.2014, 15:12
Good memories shall lead Ukraine to surprise against Denmark
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PREVIEW: Back in 2007 Leonid Ratner's team stunned the Danes and qualified for the World Championship. It's a success Ukraine want to repeat when both teams meet in the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification on Saturday
 

Good memories shall lead Ukraine to surprise against Denmark

Ukraine had a tough start to the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification with a hard-fought 30:27 win against Lithuania in October followed by a 28:34 defeat at the hands of Austria which puts head coach Leonid Ratner’s team in a delicate situation in Group 1. 

Due to the political situation in Ukraine the European Handball Federation decided to postpone Ukraine’s home game against Denmark from 26 March to 11/12 June, which means that these days Ukraine only play one away at Denmark on 29 March in Kolding.

The team has been gathered since 22 March near Kiev, but despite several training sessions it did not have the opportunity to play any tests.

"No one will come to us and at the same time we don’t have the possibilities to play abroad," says Ratner, expressing his sorrow.

"In this situation, however, postponing the home match against Denmark to June might give us some advantage, as we have the chance to prepare more thoroughly for three consecutive matches in June."

Before the Denmark encounter on home court, Ukraine face Lithuania away (7 June) and afterwards Austria on home court (15 June).       

Hopefuls in and out

On the club level the impressive performance of Galytchanka-Lviv, who have reached the semi-final of the Women’s Challenge Cup with a squad in which no one is older than 21, has not gone unnoticed and had an impact on the nominations.

While left back Iryna Stelmakh has some experience from playing at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, for goalkeeper Yelyzaveta Hilyazetdinova and Tamara Smbatyan, who has got the potential to become a future playmaker, this will be the first serious test.

On the other side there are several hopefuls that miss the game because of injuries, among them goalkeeper Nataliya Gayovich, back court player Inna Malyuchenko and Viktoriya Tsybulenko. Oleksandra Krebs, who played a good match against Austria is still recovering from an injury.

Also the team’s main playmaker, Nataliya Turkalo, who was been voted 2013 Best Player in the Ukrainian championship, cannot help the team.

She gave a birth to her first child in January and plans to be back approximately at the end of 2014. 

"I have a lot of respect for Denmark team as well as for (head coach) Jan Pytlick. He won bronze medal at the World Championship in Serbia in December 2013 with young players in his team. Without doubts the Scandinavians are the favourites in our group," says Ratner.

Look back to successful past

Ukraine have not lost one of the last four matches against Denmark on competitive level.

Well remembered is the double-header in June 2007 for ticket to the World Championship. Following a 30:30 draw in Aalborg, Ukraine, with Leonid Ratner at the helm, recorded a sensational victory at Zaporozhye (28:24).      

"Of course, I remember those matches. I think the Danish keep these unhappy memories alive and will try to take revenge.

"But now the situation is different in almost all departments of our team. The players are on a different level, their individual skills are, and as a result I don’t have so much tactical variations as I had in 2007," concluded Ratner. 

Only line player Iryna Shutskaya from the current squad played in these unforgettable play-offs seven years ago.

"Honestly, it’ll be even harder to resist Denmark then it was in 2007," she says.

"They have a young and very quick team. It’s true, that in terms of speed we are behind Denmark.

"However with good mood and extraordinary unity in our team we can hope for another surprise in Denmark," added most experienced player in the Ukrainian squad with 66 caps and 103 goals in official games. 

The overall head-to-head count against Denmark is negative though. Ukraine lost four official matches and won two. Three ended in a draw.

The Ukrainian squad for the Women’s EHF EURO 2014

Goalkeepers: Natalya Parkhomenko (Lada, RUS), Yelyzaveta Hylyazetdinova (Galytchanka);

Left wingers: Viktoriya Borshchenko (Rostov-Don, RUS), Viktoriya Belmas (Dnepryanka);

Right winger: Julia Managarova (Rostov-Don, RUS);

Left backs: Anastasia Podpalova (Brest, FRA), Anna Redka (Gomel, BLR), Julia Andriychuk (Lada, RUS), Iryna Stelmakh (Galytchanka), Elena Umanets (Karpaty);

Right backs: Olga Nikolayenko (Budapest Bank, HUN), Olga Laiuk (Muratpasha, TUR)

Centre backs: Iryna Glibko (Bukharest, ROM), Tamara Smbatyan (Galytchanka); Anastasia Sinchuk (Dnepryanka)

Line players: Iryna Shutskaya (Bukharest, ROM); Valeriya Zorya (Start, POL).


TEXT: Igor Grachov / ts
 
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