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04.03.2016, 10:28
Slovakia face must-win situation against Finland
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PREVIEW: The successful performance at the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 is a thing of the past, and Slovakia have to return to winning ways quickly if they want to be part of Sweden 2016
 

Slovakia face must-win situation against Finland

Slovakia may have impressed at the EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia, but with zero points on their tally after two 2016 qualifiers, they see themselves under pressure in Group 5 if they want to book ticket to Sweden.

“To finish second in the group will be extremely difficult, from this point of view, the two matches against Finland are crucial.

“In fact, every next match is. It is not completely in our hands. We need results to play in our favour,” says head coach Dusan Poloz when talking about upcoming qualifiers against Finland on 9 and 12 March.

Back in autumn 2015 Slovakia lost their first two qualifiers against Hungary and Poland, the two other teams in Group 5.

For Slovakia, as for many other teams, the information that the best third placed team also qualifies for Sweden 2016, brings more light into their difficult situation.

“It adds to our motivation. Four points in the standings after matches against Finland is a must,” emphasises the coach.

Respect for every opponent

Polaz took over Slovakian team in summer 2013, and back in summer 2014 he ended a two-decade wait for a major tournament qualification when he led the team to the Women’s EHF EURO 2014.

 Being the coach of Norwegian club Molde HK, Poloz knows bits and pieces about Charlotta Roos and Anna Lindholm, the Finnish duo playing in Norway.

“We have enough information about Finland team. We saw their October matches against Hungary and Poland and we have played them before.”

Slovakia also played Finland en route to the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 and in particular the away match was not easy and saw Slovakia trailing 12:14 at half-time.

“I remember that match very well. Players are more mature by now, we know each other well. We underestimated them two years ago,” says Poloz.

“For our team, every away qualifier is extremely difficult. We do not belong to the best 15 in Europe; we have to take every opponent with respect, especially when playing away from home.”

Straight into the game

Injury woes trouble Poloz ahead of the double-header. Ukrainian-born back court player Julia Kucer (Iuventa Michalovce) will not play her first competitive game for Slovakia yet and others also report problems.

“We know that Julia Kucer remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, Alica Kostelna has long-term knee problems. On top of that, Lucia Gubikova suffers from back problems and Monika Rajnohova is also in doubt. However, I believe that apart from Kucer and Kostelna, all will be available.

There is not much time for preparation therefore the foreign players will travel directly to Finland on Monday to meet up with the rest of the team and Poloz has given his team some homework to do.

“We asked the players to go over our attacking and defensive situations. We do not have much time, we will review the match tactics and try to get the girls into the right mood,” concluded the Slovakian national team coach.

The Slovakian squad for matches against Finland:

Goalkeepers: Lucia Gubiková, Adriana Medveďová (obe Iuventa Michalovce), Simona Súlovská (HK Slávia Partizánske):

Line players: Andrea Czanik (DJK/MJC Trier), Dominika Horňáková (Cercle Dijon Bourgogne), Eva Minárčiková (DHC Sokol Poruba)

Wingers: Lucia Súkenníková (DHK Baník Most), Alžbeta Rechtorisová (DHC Sokol Poruba), Mária Holešová, Veronika Habánková (obe Iuventa Michalovce)

Back court: Martina Školková (Cercle Dijon Bourgogne), Monika Rajnohová (Mosonmagyaróvári KC SE), Andrea Kertészová (ŽRK Split 2010), Simona Szarková (DHK Baník Most), Alica Kostelná (DHC Sokol Poruba), Tetyana Fiľková-Trehubová, Julia Kučerová (obe Iuventa Michalovce), Klaudia Michnová (HK Slávia Partizánske), Eva Veselková (HK Slovan Duslo Šaľa)


TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / ts
 
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