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01.10.2015, 19:34
New faces, new assistant coach and a long-term goal
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FEATURE: Big transition in the German women’s squad prior to the start of the EHF EURO 2016 qualification
 

New faces, new assistant coach and a long-term goal

With the start of the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification, a new era will commence in the German women’s national team. A huge transition with experienced players such as Anja Althaus, Nina Wörz, Anne Müller and Kerstin Wohlbold are out, while several talents are in for the matches against Switzerland (Wednesday 7 October) and Iceland (Sunday 11 October).

“The team will be rejuvenated for our long-term goal to fight for a medal at the World Championship 2017 in Germany,” said national team coach Jakob Vestergaard, adding: “All major events before like the World Championship in Denmark or the EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden are important steps on this way.”

In his first official matches as the successor or his country-fellow Heine Jensen (sacked after the tenth position at the EHF EURO 2014) Vestergaard had to experience a major setback, as the Germans lost both play-offs for the World Championship in Denmark against Russia. Thanks to a wild card they managed to be part of the event in December through the back door and it is their last chance to re-animate hopes of making it to the Olympic Games in Rio.

But the short-term focus is on the EHF EURO qualifiers next week: “We are the favourites against Switzerland, but we have huge respect for Iceland. They competed with Montenegro in June and are strong on home court. We are aware of a high hurdle and our defence will be tested,” said Vestergaard. The third German opponent in Group 7 is France.

For him the significance of the match against Iceland is the same as for the German men’s team in November 2014, when they withstood the pressure in Austria. “If we start with two wins, the door for EHF EURO 2016 is wide open.”

Up to five players could make their debut in the German jersey: Goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle, line player Meike Schmelzer (both Thüringer HC), right back Jennifer Rode (Leverkusen), right wing Alexandra Mazzucco (Leipzig) and left wing Franziska Müller (Blomberg).

“In our first camp with the newly formed team they were eager to prove their abilities,” explains Vestergaard: “We will have many more options and alternatives for the future.”

However, it is not only the squad with a new look but the coaching staff as well. Jens Pfänder is the new assistant coach, while three-time EH Champions League winner Grit Jurack will remain in the position of team manager.

“Six eyes see much more than two,” is Vestergaard’s opinion. In addition, a newly installed advisory board has been put in place, composed of the three Bundesliga coaches Dirk Leun (Buxtehude, in 2008 coach of the U20 gold medallists at the World Championship in FYR Macedonia), Leszek Krowicki (Oldenburg) and Renate Wolf (Leverkusen).

“It’s all about a successful future of women’s handball in Germany, the focus is not only on the development of the national team, but also on clubs and players,” says Vestergaard, who describes the first meeting with the advisory board as a ”fruitful discussion”.

Germany squad for the Women's EHF EURO 2016 qualification matches against Switzerland and Iceland:

Goalkeeper: Katja Kramarczyk (HC Leipzig), Clara Woltering (Borussia Dortmund), Dinah Eckerle (Thüringer HC)
Left wing: Lone Fischer (Buxtehuder SV), Franziska Müller (HSG Blomberg-Lippe)
Left back: Shenia Minevskaja (HC Leipzig), Xenia Smits (Metz Handball/FRA), Saskia Lang (HC Leipzig)
Centre back: Kim Naidzinavicius (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Anna Loerper (TuS Metzingen), Angie Geschke (VfL Oldenburg)
Right back: Anne Hubinger (HC Leipzig), Susann Müller (SG BBM Bietigheim), Jennifer Rode (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen)
Right wing: Svenja Huber (Thüringer HC), Alexandra Mazzucco (HC Leipzig)
Lin player: Luisa Schulze (HC Leipzig), Julia Behnke (TuS Metzingen), Meike Schmelzer (Thüringer HC)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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