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10.06.2014, 11:33
Anja Althaus between future and past
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FEATURE: Together with the national team the German line player faces FYR Macedonia in her hometown to-be, Skopje, on Wednesday
 

Anja Althaus between future and past

31-year-old Anja Althaus has embarked on a trip through her future and her past: The two final qualification matches for the EHF EURO 2014 on Wednesday (live on ehfTV.com) and Saturday bring the German line player first to her future city of residence, Skopje, and then to Magdeburg, the place where she was born.

But until Sunday it had not even been sure, if Althaus would be in the squad list for the crucial matches against FYR Macedonia.

In winter she sustained a meniscus injury, and as the recovery process did not work as well as expected, she missed the end of the season matches with her club side, German champions Thüringer HC.

Therefore the two test matches against Netherlands last weekend needed to decide whether Althaus was fit enough to play – and after some special treatments she passed the test and helped her team to two victories (28:27 and 30:23) against the Dutch national team.

When German head coach Heine Jensen nominated his squad on Monday, Althaus was on the list.

Easing the pressure as early as possible

Following a win and a defeat against Russia at the start of the EHF EURO qualification in November, another victory on Wednesday in Skopje would grant Germany the ticket to Hungary in Croatia.

If they beat FYR Macedonia twice, they are also winners of Group 7 in which Russia already booked their EHF EURO ticket.

"I never had expected to have a national team match in my home town Magdeburg, as this city is a traditional stronghold of men’s handball, not women’s," Althaus told ehf-euro.com.

But as the German Handball Federation organises a double feature, combining the women’s EHF EURO qualifier against FYR Macedonia with the men’s World Championship Play-off against Poland on Saturday, Althaus will not only play on home court, but will be supported by a sold-out arena filled with 8,000 spectators.

"I hope we can book our ticket already on Wednesday because then the pressure will disappear for us," says the line player.

After she had played for seven years in Trier, where she became a national team player, Althaus transferred to Danish side Viborg HK in 2007 and became EHF Champions League winner in 2009 and 2010.

In 2012 she returned to Germany, signed with Thüringer HC and has only become German champions with them for the second time.

But everything will change again – she signed a three-year contract with uprising powerhouse Vardar Skopje.

"I was really delighted by their offer,” Althaus says about the MVM EHF FINAL4 participants. “I’m really looking forward to this great experience. I got to know German and Danish mentality, now Balkan mentality will be completely different."

However, Althaus knows that "on Wednesday evening the whole arena will be against us. But I think we can survive in this atmosphere."

Off to new shores

When she received the offer from Skopje, Althaus thought: "For heaven’s sake, what shall I do?"

After a discussion with her boyfriend, a handball player in Eisenach, she decided to grab the challenge in FYR Macedonia with both hands. "I really like this Vardar project and I hope that I can help the team with my experience."

But first she will step on Macedonian ground to qualify for her sixth EHF EURO final tournament.

And if Germany make it to the final tournament in Hungary and Croatia, the hopes are high to grab a medal after Germany’s fifth position at the World Championship 2013 in Serbia.

Althaus never won EURO silverware, despite two semi-final appearances in 2006 and 2008. The only international medal she won to date came in bronze at the World Championship 2007.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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