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06.03.2015, 14:01
Nadgornaja, Thüringer to experience Russian spirit of Dinamo
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FACE TO FACE: Leading backs Anna Kochetova and Nadja Nadgornaja clash on Sunday when Dinamo-Sinara host Thüringer HC.
 

Nadgornaja, Thüringer to experience Russian spirit of Dinamo

Sunday lunchtime will be crunch time in Women’s EHF Champions League Group 1.

Second-placed Dinamo-Sinara may have already sealed their place in the quarter-finals, despite defeat to Buducnost last time out, but the Russian champions can feel Sunday’s opponents Thüringer HC breathing down their neck just two points behind, and still striving to advance.

Dinamo won the away match 33:30, but this duel of two domestic champions could come down to the two of the competition’s top backs.

Dinamo’s 27-year-old Anna Kochetova and Thüringer’s 26-year-old Nadja Nadgornaja have been in hot form this season and lead their respective teams in scoring, Nadgornaja with 59 goals to Kochetova’s 57.

But before their head-to-head on the court on Sunday, the two stars took part in a verbal joust in the latest installment of ehfCL.com’s ‘Face to Face’ series.

The trip to Volgograd is the longest the German club have faced in this year’s competition, and they may lean on Nadgornaja on before even reaching the court, with the Kiev-born left back speaking fluent Russian, although this will be her first trip to the city.

Turning attention to matters inside the arena, however, both players are full of praise for the other’s attributes and importance to their team.

"I think that Nadja is one of the best players and is also the leader for Thüringer HC," said Kochetova.

"She deserves attention and respect. The game of THC depends a lot on her."

Nadgornaja is similarly glowing in her endorsement of her opposite number.

"Anna is brilliant in one-against-one actions," she said.

"She is dangerous for any defence thanks to her vast repertoire of shots and her stunning jump shots. 

"She represents exactly the way Dinamo plays. They count on their individual skills and actions, and you never know what they do in the next moment - this is the style of Anna Kochetova."

But when the spotlight is turned on themselves, both players play down the significance of individual achievements.

"The fact that both of us are among the top scorers on our teams has no meaning before the game. What we have achieved so far is behind and we both must play and show our best," said the Russian left back.

Nadgornaja added: "I don’t look upon statistics and top scorer rankings. It’s all about the team. If we win and I didn’t score a single goal, it’s still perfect. If I score 10 times and we lose it is no happy day.”

Both players have experienced happy days at international junior level, winning the U20 world championship with their respective countries.

And it is one particular national trait that Kochetova pinpoints as pivotal in Dinamo’s current form.

She said: "There are no secrets for our success, it is just the Russian spirit that we have in our team. 

"On Sunday, everything is in our hands and I wouldn’t like to predict the result, but I can surely say that my team will fight until the end."

Towards the end of their previous meeting is when Thüringer began to falter.

"We were ahead in the second half, but then our tactics to replace our goalkeeper with an additional field player acted like a boomerang. We went down and couldn’t catch up," recalled Nadgornaja.

"Dinamo are a top team with high quality and perfectly skilled individual players."

The statistics are on Dinamo’s side too.

The Russians have so far won all three of their matches against German opposition in this season’s Champions League, beating HC Leipzig (twice) and Thüringer HC. 

And for Kochetova and Nadgornaja, this could turn out to be the first of several key personal duels with Russia and Germany due to meet in the play-offs for the 2015 World Championship in Denmark. 

But Sunday’s crunch encounter is all that concerns them for now.

"Those matches are so far ahead, and I even don’t know by now if the new German national team coach Jakob Vestergaard will nominate me," said Nadgornaja.

"Club matches are totally different to the national team, with different coaches, different styles and different concepts. So let’s just focus on Dinamo and Anna Kochetova on Sunday."

Follow the match Dinamo-Sinara vs Thüringer HC live on ehfTV on Sunday at 12:00 hrs CET (14:00 hrs local time)


TEXT: Björn Pazen, Amina Idrizi / jh
 
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