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22.11.2014, 09:50
Larvik move revives Toft’s international career
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INTERVIEW: After winning a first major medal in nine years without her, Danish goalkeeper Sandra Toft is optimistic on behalf of her team ahead of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014
 

Larvik move revives Toft’s international career

The EHF EURO 2014 will mean a major championship comeback for Sandra Toft.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper was part of the Danish team to finish fifth at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, but last year she missed the World Championship due to injury. This also meant that she missed the first medal for Denmark’s women’s national team in nine years, as Denmark won bronze in Serbia last December.

“I am really looking forward to being part of a major tournament again, not least as I think that we have the chance of achieving something big this time. We are more or less the same team who competed in 2012, so we have played together for a long time now and experienced a lot together.

“Last year, the girls won bronze at the World Championship and that has added to the self-confidence in the team.

“All this gives us a good chance at a very equal championship, where more or less all teams have a chance to finish on the podium, I think,” Sandra Toft tells ehf-euro.com.

This summer she left the Danish league club Team Tvis Holstebro to join Norwegian record champions Larvik, where she has been playing more than expected, as Larvik’s legendary veteran goalkeeper Cecilie Leganger ended her career just before the start of the season.

“There is no doubt in my mind that joining Larvik has brought me back to the national team. I do not think I would have been nominated had I not made that change. Playing for Larvik means that I meet best players in the world every week in the (Women’s EHF) Champions League and obviously, this has meant a lot to my development, although I feel that I can still add some layers to my play.

“Furthermore, we have Lene Rantala as goalkeeper coach, and she is really great at that job, while I also have a great goalkeeper partner in Alma Hasanic,” adds Toft.

“I know them, but they also know me”

Those best players in the world, Sandra Toft mentioned and whom she meets on a weekly basis in the Women’s EHF Champions League, will also account for a great deal of the players she will be facing in Hungary, where Denmark play their preliminary round matches as well as the main round should the Danes make it that far.

“Of course, I know those players from the Champions League, but then again, they also know me, so we will just have to see who this mutual knowledge will be an advantage to,” says Sandra Toft, who finds that it was a really good idea from national coach Jan Pytlick to nominate 15 out of the 16 players for his squad as early as 27 October.

“It definitely gave me a feeling and security and meant that I could focus completely on doing well in Larvik.

“I think that Jan did the right thing. As he knew what players he wanted, it was the right decision to let them know right away,” she finds.

At the EHF EURO, she and her teammates are going to play their preliminary matches in Hungary’s second largest city Debrecen, where their opponents in Group B will be Norway, Romania and Ukraine. If they go on from that group, they can remain in Debrecen for the main round, where their preliminary group will be crossing with Group A, which consists of Hungary, Russia, Poland and Spain.

“It is a tough group, no doubt about that. No one should underestimate Ukraine, who may be able to bother all other three teams in the group.

“Romania are on their way back up again, I think. Cristina Neagu is doing very well in Buducnost and they also have many other good players. Norway are Norway, which means that they are always good, and the group we will be meeting for the main round, is also a real killer group.

“This just serves to prove that we have to be ready for every match and perform at our best every time, but as I said, I think our chances are really good this time,” concludes Toft.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
 
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