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30.05.2016, 15:54
Without several stars, Netherlands eye top spot in Group 3
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NEWS REPORT: Full of confidence, the Netherlands will rest key players including Estavana Polman and Nycke Groot for the first of their two final EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers this week
 

Without several stars, Netherlands eye top spot in Group 3

After taking silver at the World Championship in December and securing their Olympic qualification tournament in March, the Netherlands have set their eyes on yet another success.

Coach Henk Groener’s team want to finish top of Women’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Group 3 – and have every chance to do so.

Leading main rivals Spain on goal difference, the Netherlands have games remaining against Bulgaria on Wednesday (1 June) and Austria on Saturday.

The Netherlands outscored Bulgaria 45:21 at home in October, and Groener can afford to leave eight leading team members out of his 16-player squad for the return game.

Goalkeeper Tess Wester will not travel to Gabrovo, and neither will Lois Abbingh, Yvette Broch, Michelle Goos, Nycke Groot, Laura van der Heijden, Angela Malestein and Estavana Polman.

“Some players get to rest,” Groener says. “Also, some others undergo medical tests or have PR commitments.”

According to the coach, the absence of a key part of his usual team has a positive side.

“This way we can give a number of other players the chance to present themselves in the orange jersey,” Groener says.

Jankovic returns

Among the ‘new’ names in the squad for Bulgaria are right wing Debbie Bont, who returns after missing the Olympic qualification tournament two months ago, and goalkeeper Jasmina Jankovic, who has recovered from the knee injury that kept her away from the world championship.

Jankovic tore ligaments in her right knee in a practice session with the national team a week before the tournament in Denmark.

After revalidation taking nearly six months, she recently enjoyed some playing time at her German club TuS Metzingen.

“I’m fit enough now to join the Dutch team and I am very happy about that. Those were very tough months,” Jankovic says in an interview on the website of Dutch federation NHV.

“I’m lacking match rhythm but there a lot of trainings to build that up again,” Jankovic says. “Let’s see how things are going in Bulgaria. I don’t want to put too much pressure on it and I am self-confident.”

All stars return when the Netherlands get back to full strength for hosting Austria in a packed Maaspoort arena on Saturday.

The venue in Den Bosch sold out in less than three hours after the 2,600 tickets went on sale last month.

The Dutch fans will expect nothing less than another win by their heroes, who defeated Austria 31:25 at their first meeting in October.

Groener will start preparations for the final qualifier with a group of 21 payers before reducing his squad to 16.

The Dutch squad for the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Austria

Goalkeepers: Jasmina Jankovic (TuS Metzingen), Marieke van der Wal (Virto/Quintus), Tess Wester (SG BBM Bietigheim)(**)

Line players: Kelly Dulfer (VfL Oldenburg), Esther Schop (Nantes Loire Atlantique), Danick Snelder (Thüringer HC), Yvette Broch (Györi Audi ETO KC)(**)

Wingers: Ailly Luciano (Metz Handball), Debbie Bont (København Håndbold), Sanne Hoekstra (HSG Bensheim Auerbach), Martine Smeets (SG BBM Bietigheim), Michelle Goos (Succes/VOC Amsterdam)(**), Angela Malestein (SG BBM Bietigheim)(**)

Backcourt players: Isabelle Jongenelen (Nantes Loire Atlantique), Lynn Knippenborg (Vipers Kristiansand), Jessy Kramer (Vipers Kristiansand), Sanne van Olphen (Toulon Saint Cyr Var Handball), Myrthe Schoenaker (Füchse Berlin)(*), Inger Smits (VfL Oldenburg)(*), Maxime Struijs (Frisch Auf Göppingen)(*), Lois Abbingh (HCM Baia Mare)(**), Nycke Groot (Györi Audi ETO KC)(**), Laura van der Heijden (Team Esbjerg)(**), Estavana Polman (Team Esbjerg)(**)

(*) only for Bulgaria game

(**) only for Austria game


TEXT: Eric Willemsen / ts
 
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