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28.11.2014, 09:00
Poloz: "We need to make the most out of this historic moment"
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FEATURE: Following 19 years of absence, Slovakia's women's national team has qualified again for a major tournament. Despite being drawn to a tough group they are eager to show they deserve to be at the EHF EURO 2014
 

Poloz: “We need to make the most out of this historic moment”

19 years after they qualified for the Women’s World Championship, Slovakia have made it again to a major international tournament, and head coach Dusan Poloz believes it will be a celebration of handball for the entire country.

"For Slovakia this is a historic moment, playing on a major handball stage after such a long time. We feel excited and proud, yet humble. Respect in a certain way and of course responsibility."

Poloz has been coaching the Czech national team as an assistant to Jan Basny at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, therefore he knows what an EHF EURO looks and feels and can share this experience with his players who have never played at an event of such importance before.

"The experience I gained with the Czech national team is valuable and it helps me to prepare as I know what can I expect from such an event, although as head coach I have more responsibility on my shoulders this time."

Training in Michalovce

The team has set up camp in Michalovce in east Slovakia where they will prepare until the end of this week with two friendly matches against Ukraine scheduled for the weekend.

Poloz wants to see all the 18 players he has with him in action.

"We’ll definitely give a chance to all the players to show what they are capable of. We are working on different playing schemes and tactical variations for our games.

"Next week in Malacky, we will concentrate on mental aspects, as it is vital gor girls to be confident, think positively and believe in their strengths."

Preparations have not been ideal for the Slovakian team, as the team has had to cope with injuries throughout the year, however Poloz believes such moments can make the team only stronger.

"Apart from Dominika Hornakova (line player, Iuventa Michalovce), who is undergoing medical examinations on her ankle, the entire team is fit."

Back in October Slovakia played a tournament in Hungary in October and returned with mixed results. They beat Czech Republic 22:21, drew 31:31 with Austria, but also conceded a 23:46 loss against Hungary.

"Our main problem is the stability of our performance.  We need to improve in this aspect, to be able to play well for more difficult games in a row.

"We must not play well against in one game and implode in the next one. This must not happen at the EURO."

Nothing is impossible

Slovakia have been drawn to Group D in which they face current European champions Montenegro, last year’s runners-up at the World Championship Serbia and France, a side they already met in their qualification group.

"It is advantage for France to meet us first. They know they can not underestimate us again, they are one of the top 5 teams in the world," says Poloz.

"All three matches will be a challenge for us. However, I believe there is always a moment when you have your chance to succeed.

"Whether it will be in the first match or later, I cannot tell. But the chance will come and we need to make the most of it. You never know what will happen. One can qualify (for the main round) even with one point."

Experience mixed with young blood   

Lydia Jakubisova, the only Slovakian player who plays in the EHF Champions League this season as she takes to the court for Thüringer HC, will lead the team in Hungary and Croatia.

Besides her the best-known players in the squad are Katarina Dubajova from Nowy Sacz, third best scorer in Polish Leaguem and Petra Benuskova from Stella Saint-Maur in France.

“Our opponents have players participating in the Champions League every week. The main part of our team plays in the WHIL (Czecho-Slovakian league) and only a few play abroad.

"There is lack of regular experience in difficult games on our side," says Poloz.

However, Slovakia can count on fans from all over the country travelling to Osijek to support their country, just like the Slovakian men’s national team experienced it at the World Championship 2009 which was also played in Croatia.

"I will be happy after the tournament if we did our best. If we give everything in each game, we will look at each other afterwards in pride and leave with our heads held high," says Poloz.

Slovakia will start their Group D campaign on Monday, 8 December at 18:00 in Osijek against France.

Two days later they will meet Montenegro and will conclude the group phase with their match against Serbia on 12 December. 

Slovakia’s 18-player squad for the pre-tournament camp and friendly matches against Ukraine:

Goalkeepers: Zaneta Tothova (Stella Saint-Maur/France), Lucia Gubikova (Iuventa Michalovce), Simona Sulovska (HK Slavia Partizanske) 

Line players: Andrea Czanik (DJK/MJC Trier/Germany), Eva Minarcikova (DHC Sokol Poruba/CR), Patricia Wollingerova (Iuventa Michalovce) 

Wingers: Lydia Jakubisova (Thüringer HC/Germany), Lucia Sukennikova (DHK Banik Most/Czech republic), Reka Bizikova (HK Slovan Duslo Saľa), Selma Blazekova (HK Slavia Partizanske) 

Back court: Katarina Dubajova (MKS Olimpia-Beskid Nowy Sacz/Poland), Martina Skolkova (Cercle Dijon Bourgogne/France), Petra Benuskova (Stella Saint-Maur/France), Simona Szarkova (DHK Banik Most/Czech republic), Monika Rajnohova (DHC Slavia Praha/Czech Republic), Tetyana Trehubova (Iuventa Michalovce), Andrea Kerteszova (HK Slovan Duslo Sala), Klaudia Michnova (HK Slavia Partizanske)


TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / ts
 
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