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03.06.2014, 11:01
Pidpalova: "We have no choice, we have to give all we have"
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PREVIEW: Having to play three qualifiers in 12 days, Ukraine's team captain wants to make sure that the Women's EHF EURO 2014 will not be the first final tournament that takes place without her team
 

Pidpalova: "We have no choice, we have to give all we have"

Since 1994 Ukraine's women's national team has been participating at every EHF EURO event. However, after having taken only one win from three matches in the current qualification phase for the EHF EURO 2014, there is a certain anxiety within the squad that they might miss out this time.

After having beaten Lithuania 30:27 in the first match, Ukraine lost the following encounter 28:34 against Austria and their third match 26:28 against Denmark and are hence ranked third in Qualification Group 1.

Due to the political situation in Ukraine, the European Handball Federation decided to postpone Ukraine's fourth round match against Denmark from 26 March to 4 June and have it taken place on neutral court (live ticker available).

Their sixth round encouter against Austria, originally scheduled to be played in Kiev on 15 June, will also take place on neutral ground.

Therefore Ukraine will first travel to Michalovce in Slovakia to play Denmark. Their fifth round match against Lithuania takes place on 11 June; afterwards they return to Michalovce where they will face Austria.

For all three matches Ukraine have been preparing in Barvynok near Uzhgorod on the courts of three-time national champion Karpaty less than 50 kilometres away from Michalovce.

Head coach Leonid Ratner is obviously not happy about the lack of competitive test matches for his team, but he is furthermore troubled by the absence of some of his key players.

The team's main playmaker Iryna Glibko will miss the last part of qualification, and Nataliya Turkalo has given birth to child and only recently rejoined the team.

Anna Redka (pictured above), who plays for Gomel in Belarus, broke her wrist in the last match of the Belarusian championship and will therefore also miss the qualification matches.

It means that Ukraine are likely to rely on the universal skills of of Olga Nikolayenko, Anastasiya Podpalova and Elena Umanets. Ratner might also give some court time to Tamara Smbatyan, who would then celebrate her competitive match debut for Ukraine.

"Furthermore we cannot count on our left wing Viktoriya Borshchenko in first match against Denmark, but I hope she will be ready for the next two," says Ratner.

"I don't know how we can surprise the Scandinavians, but we will fight until the very last minute, hoping for our will to prevail," added the 76-year-old head coach.

"Considering the situation in country and the position in our group, we have no choice. We must try maximum we can," said a positive-minded Anastasiya Pidpalova.

"I was surprised how quickly the Danish defence went from 6-0 to 4-2 when we played them in Kolding. They showed good tactical variations, but with all respect to our rivals I'm sure we have a chance to beat them."

"If we get one point against Denmark we will be satisfied and keep our good chances to qualify for the EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia," concluded the Ukrainian captain.

Time for statistics

The overall head-to-head statistics are not entirely in Ukraine's favour. Against Denmark they lost five times and beat them twice. Three matches ended in a draw.

Of the six matches Ukraine played against Austria, they won only one. They won three times against Lithuania and lost once.

The Ukraine squad for the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification matches against Denmark, Austria and Lithuania

Goalkeepers: Natalya Parkhomenko (Lada, RUS), Yelyzaveta Hylyazetdinova (Galytchanka), Judit Balog (Gyor, HUN), Oleksandra Krebs (Slovan, SVK)

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

Right wingers Julia Managarova (Rostov-Don, RUS)

Left backs: Anastasiya Pidpalova (Brest, FRA), Julia Andriychuk (Lada, RUS), Iryna Stelmakh (Galytchanka), Elena Umanets (Karpaty)

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

Centre backs: Tamara Smbatyan (Galytchanka)

Line players: Iryna Shutskaya (Bukharest, ROU); Olga Perederiy (Rostov-Don, RUS), Valeriya Zorya (Start, POL)


TEXT: Igor Grachov / ts
 
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