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11.06.2014, 09:20
Belarus: From zero to hero?
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PREVIEW: A double-header between Romania and Belarus concludes the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification in Group 6 with both teams playing for all or nothing
 

Belarus: From zero to hero?

Despite being still on zero points at the moment, Belarus hope to qualify for EHF EURO which will take place in Hungary and Croatia in December this year.

The situation in Group 6, which only consists of the teams from Norway, Romania and Belarus, is simple: Having won all four games, Norway secured the first place and already advanced to the final tournament, while Belarus and Romania are going to fight for the second spot in their upcoming double-header.

The first game will be played in Mogilev, Belarus on 11 June, while the second leg will take place in the Romanian city of Baia Mare four days later. For both teams, these two matches are like play-offs: the winner takes it all.

In case the points are shared, goal difference will play a crucial role.

Experienced goalkeeper retires

Belarus started their preparation already Monday a week ago in Mogilev.

The Slovenian-born coach Tomaz Cater called up 19 players, 14 of them come from the domestic league. The club with the biggest representation in the national team (6 players) is BNTU-BelAZ Minsk, which has recently won the Belarusian championship for the fifth year in a row.

The main absentee from the squad is the experienced goalkeeper Alena Abramovich. The 32-year-old player has announced her retirement from the international handball.

By the way, she is currently the most capped player in the history of Belarus team on par with Alesya Kurchankova and Natallia Petrakova (83 games) - because she quite from international handball Abramovich missed the chance to become an absolute record holder.

She played her last games for Belarus in March against Norway. In those matches, Cater’s team fought hard but lost. Norway, EHF EURO record winners and overwhelming favourites in this group, lived up to expectations and won both games - 33:29 at home and 32:24 in Mogilev.

Cater optimistic

This time Belarus face an easier opponent and hope to take the best from the two games. "We are in a tough group but we want to beat Romania. I think we are able to do it," says Tomaz Cater.

However, the head coach is aware of the opponent's strengths: "Romania had their problems, but their national league is stronger than Belarusian. They played pretty well at the World Championship in Serbia. They have their own system, a good defence and a qualified coach."

The Belarusian squad for the EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers against Romania

Goalkeepers: Katsiaryna Mukhina (HPK Arkatron), Volha Nikitsina (BNTU-BelAZ), Alesya Safonava (BNTU-BelAZ)

Wingers: Natallia Vasileuskaya (E.S.Besancon), Iryna Dronava (HC Gomel), Yana Yemelyanenka (HC Gomel), Nataliya Kotsina (Gorodnichanka), Alena Kulik (BNTU-BelAZ)

Line players: Anastasiya Lobach (SC Zvezda), Iryna Spas (Gorodnichanka), Hanna Sukhamirava (BNTU-BelAZ)

Back court players: Liliya Artsiukhovich (SC Zvezda), Katsiaryna Dubautsova (HC Gomel), Karyna Yezhykava (Astrahanochka), Anastasiya Mazgo (BNTU-BelAZ), Katsiaryna Silitskaya (BNTU-BelAZ), Hanna Stsiapanava (HPK Arkatron), Dziyana Ilyina (HC Gomel), Valiantsina Nestsiaruk (SPR Lublin)


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ts
 
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