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22.07.2015, 10:57
Spain out to surprise on home court
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NEWS REPORT: It is more than ten years ago that Spain won a medal at a Women's 19 EHF EURO, but with the support of their fans at the upcoming championship in Valencia hopes are alive for another good finish
 

Spain out to surprise on home court

The stage is set for the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2015 in Valencia, Spain, however the hosts, 24 hours before their first game against Portugal on Thursday, are not sure yet whether playing on home court works as an advantage for them.

It is more than ten years ago that Spain won medal at an under-19 championships (they came third in 2002), and if the performance of the same generation of players two years ago at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO is anything to go by, their 13th place finish underlines that they have a considerable mountain to climb.

"Playing in Spain is a responsibility, because you are at home, everyone comes to see you and we want to convey a positive attitude to our supporters," says head coach Sagrario Santana.

"We talked a lot with the team, and I reassured the players because I don’t want them to feel any extra pressure.

"We will fight to be in the top positions, but I want to recognise the efforts made by the players. They are not professional, they dedicated all their spare time to handball, and they have been generous enough to be here, giving all they have to win. Only for this, they have all my respect."

First goal: reaching the main round

Preparations for the tournament started at the end of June and  ended, in terms of test matches, with a 30:32 defeat against one of the championship’s favourites, Russia, and with a 20:15 win against Croatia.

"The players have done a very good job and trained very well before the tournament. We lost to Russia, but it’s one of the great teams of the championship and we made it hard for them. The victory against Croatia then really was a boost for us," says Santana.

In Group D Spain will play against Belarus, Norway and Portugal – teams, Santana says, his squad is able to overcome on its way to reach a place in the main round.

"The European handball teams all have a lot of potential, but I think our group is the most affordable. I think the level of Portugal and Norway is very similar to ours, and Belarus is not a permanent guest at this level. The main goal is to qualify for the main round."

All the Spanish players play in the Spanish League, quite contrary to the senior national team in which the majority to takes to the court abroad.

"It is true that we reduced the quality of our league, but I think in one or two years, we will be back on track because my players are already playing in the Spanish league with the best teams. This is a very good learning for the future," says Santana.

Players to watch out for in the Spanish team include left backs Natalia Martínez and Patricia Descalzo as well as centre back Beatriz Puertas.


TEXT: Adria Barrio / ts
 
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