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23.10.2014, 15:00
Slovakia out to gain the handball world’s respect again
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PREVIEW: Head coach Zoltan Heister lead’s Slovakia’s men’s national team into the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification, hoping to bring it back to former strength
 

Slovakia out to gain the handball world’s respect again

With just one week left until the start of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification, Slovakia’s men’s national team wants to emulate the women’s team’s success.

Back in June this year Sloviakia’s women’s team drew in a qualifier against France which granted them the decisive point to qualify for the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 and men’s head coach Zoltan Heister admits that this is some extra motivation.

His team first play at Slovenia on 29 October and then face Sweden at home on 1 November.

"Our target is to pick up at least two points to stay in the race. If we gain more, we’d be extremely happy of course," says Heister.

"Slovenia are a good quality team. However, we have some good information about them. They are at home, favourites, but we will try to surprise them."

Furthermore Slovakia have beaten Sweden under Heister’s guidance in 2011, in an EHF EURO 2012 qualifier.

However, the head coach says, thar there is no room for looking back.

"The squads have changed; it will be a completely different game. We will need to play aggressively in defence and try to be quick in attack. We need to be full of discipline in the back court, from where we can build our attack."

Generation change

The biggest surprise in the Slovakian squad is the absence of Richard Stochl, Slovakia’s handball player of the year in 2013.

"We decided to nominate three younger goalkeepers (Zernovic, Putera and Paul), who all play in good quality teams.

"They are in good form and already have experience with difficult games even in young age," says Heister.

"It is time for the young generation to replace their successors. They have all played a decent amount of games in the national team; they are not completely new to it."

Following this generation change, Heister has not only dropped Stochl, but also Radoslav Antl,  and Peter Kukucka from the team, meaning that it is up to players such as Oliver Rabek, Martin Stranovsky and Tomas Urban to lead the team to the desired two points.

Get back on the winning track

For Heister this is his second spell with the national team.

Following his departure in January 2012, after he had been in charge for four years, he returned to the helm in summer 2013.

"Our goal is to build a competitive team and get back to the level where we have been before.

"The handball world respected our strength, we had a good name. It won´t be easy, but we are not afraid of the challenges.”

The team will meet on Monday in Bratislava. The match against Slovenia starts at 20.30 hrs on Wednesday.

The home match against Sweden throws off in Bratislava on 1 November at 18:00 hrs.

Slovakian squad for Rounds 1 and 2 of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification

Goalkeepers: Teodor Paul (Grundfos Tatabanya KC), Milos Putera (TV Grosswallstadt), Marian ZernoviC (HC Sporta Hlohovec)

Back court players: Lukas Gamrat (Eintracht Hildesheim), Patrik Hruscak (HC Empor Rostock), Marek Mikeci (HSG Varel-Friesland), Oliver Rabek, Radovan Pekar, Lukas Urban (both Tatran Presov), Lubomir Duris (HC Sporta Hlohovec) 

Wing players: Martin Stranovsky (HC Erlangen), Tomas Urban (Tatran Presov), Martin Briatka (HK Agro Topolcany), Martin Mizenko (HC Sporta Hlohovec), Miroslav Volentics (SKP Bratislava)

Line players: Michal Kopco (Tatran Presov), Martin Slaninka, Boris Sivak (both HK Agro Topolcany)


TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / ts
 
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