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11.06.2014, 11:23
Slovakia aim for first successful qualification in 20 years
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PREVIEW: The Slovakian women's national team needs one point from their EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers against France and Iceland in order to qualify for the final tournament
 

Slovakia aim for first successful qualification in 20 years

Slovakia’s national team is close to writing women’s handball history.

This Wednesday (11 June) the team faces France and four days later they meet Iceland in Group 2 of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification – if they do not lose both matches they will have qualified for the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 for the first time in 20 years.

ehf-euro.com caughtup with head coach Dusan Poloz to get his opinion on these two crucial matches.

Last Thursday Slovakia played a test match against Hungary. However, instead of making him smile, his team’s performance put massive wrinkles on Poloz’s forehead – Slovakia lost 15:37.

"We played really badly. There was no quality and determination in our game. We failed to show what we are capable of," analysed Poloz.

"However, we need to play more matches like this against the best teams in the world because these are the games we can learn from and improve. Maybe it will have a positive effect in the end," starts Poloz.

Determined despite absences

There are a few further issues that trouble Poloz. Marianna Rebicova, one of the rising stars in Slovakian women’s handball, will miss the final two qualification matches due to a knee injury she sustained in the national championship play-offs.

Lydia Jakubisova, winner of the German championship with Thüringer HC, remains sidelined after recovering from serious knee injury as well. On the other side, a qualification match debut awaits Tetyana Trehubova.

"We started our preparations with team building and recovery sessions after long and difficult season.

"We played lot of games, worked on the physical state of the players and at the same time had lot of fun which had positive effect on the team spirit.

"Since last week week we have fully concentrated on handball and different systems we have been preparing for games against France and Iceland."

Logical venue choice

For the match against France Slovakia have again chosen the hall in Šaľa – the venue in which they beat Iceland 19:18 in October.

Handball tradition is huge in the 25,000-people town in south-west Slovakia. The local men’s team recently made the jump from the second division to the Extraliga and the women’s team came second in their league – the hall is expected to be sold out.

"I asked to play in Šaľa. People there understand handball, they are very passionate and enthusiastic.

"Šaľa is a handball town. We have played a very dramatic game against Iceland there. I expect a sold out arena, fantastic support and positive energy for the girls from the stands," says Poloz.

How to beat the favourites

But no matter the support from the stands, France, who are already qualified and unbeaten in this qualification campaign to date, are still the favourites.

In order to prepare his team for the upcoming challenges, Poloz had organised a meeting for his players with ice hockey coach Marian Jelinek, the former personal coach of NHL legend Jaromir Jagr.

"It was our role to prepare girls mentally for what can be their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach the EURO," says Poloz.

"I believe in this team. The players have the quality and if they play with their heart for their country, the dream is within reach.

"We are fully concentrated on the first game against France. We do not think about Iceland. We have everything in our own hands. We cannot beat France every time we meet them, but we certainly can beat them once. Maybe this time around,“ concludes a determined Poloz.


TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / ts
 
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