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14.10.2014, 16:35
New start for Dutch men with new coach
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PREVIEW: German Bundesliga player Fabian van Olphen celebrates his national team comeback as Netherlands hope to spring a surprise in Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Group 1
 

New start for Dutch men with new coach

New Netherlands coach Joop Fiege is eager to get the Dutch team off to a good start in the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification at the end of October.

At the same time, Fiege dampens expectations. "We haven’t qualified for the European Championships in 20 years and you don’t change the world in two days," says Fiege, who has been working as an assistant under Mark Schmetz for 1,5 years before taking over as head coach in September.

The Netherlands open their qualifying campaign against Croatia in Zagreb on 30 October before hosting Norway in Almere three days later. Turkey is the fourth opponent in Group 1.

From the seven groups in total, the top two and the best third-placed team will advance to the final tournament in Poland.

Ambitious coaching duo

"It’s fantastic to play Croatia, a real top nation," Fiege says. "Norway is a strong opponent, too. We have a dozen men who are playing abroad, they have about 40 men playing for clubs all over Europe.

"We’ve lost only just to Sweden recently so we should be able to cause Norway some troubles. And Turkey shouldn’t be underestimated as an up and coming handball nation."

The appointment of Fiege, and Gino Smits as his assistant, marks the start of a new era for men’s handball in the Netherlands.

The pair worked in the same constellation with the national youth team in the past. “We are ambitious and we want to go forward,” Fiege says.

"However, the financial opportunities for handball, like many other sports in our country, are limited. There’s a lot of potential in Dutch handball but many other countries are investing a lot more money in the sports.

"So it’s not realistic to expect a sudden rise to the top now. We’ve got a lot of work to do."

Notable name

Fiege and Smits have invited 18 players for a short training camp in Zwartmeer and a friendly match against German side OHV Aurich on 21 October before cutting back the squad to 16 for the Croatia and Norway games.

The most notable name on the list is left back Fabian van Olphen, who retired from the national team in early 2010 after persistent injuries but has now made himself available again after being contacted by Fiege.

"I feel fully healthy again and I see a chance for us to qualify," the 33-year-old Magdeburg captain told Dutch website Handbalstartpunt.

Fiege says Van Olphen "will play as long as we have a chance to qualify. If that chance has gone, we’ll prefer to continue with younger players and give them the opportunity to gain experience."

The squad

Dutch coaches Fiege and Smits have nominated the following 18 players in their preliminary squad for the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification games against Croatia and Norway:

Goalkeepers: Dennis Schellekens (JMS/Hurry Up), Mike Tadey (KV Sasja Antwerpen), Bart Ravensbergen (Targos/Bevo HC)

Court players: Léon van Schie (Achilles/Bocholt), Samir Benghanem (FIQAS/Aalsmeer), Bobby Schagen (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Nicky Verjans (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Ronald Suelmann (JMS/Hurry Up), Patrick Miedema (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Jeroen van den Beucken (Targos/Bevo HC), Remco van Dam (FIQAS/Aalsmeer), Luc Steins (OCI/LIONS), Dario Polman (Targos/Bevo HC), Toon Leenders (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Joris Baart (OCI/LIONS), Edwin de Raad (OHV Aurich), Jort Neuteboom ( JMS/Hurry Up), Lino Janssen (OCI/LIONS)


TEXT: Eric Willemsen / ts
 
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