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22.09.2017, 11:11
Five young players to watch in EHF EURO qualification
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FEATURE: The upcoming Women’s EHF EURO 2018 Qualification will not only see the biggest stars on court, but young players ready to make the mark in their senior national sides
 

Five young players to watch in EHF EURO qualification

The journey to the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France is about to begin, with 28 teams contesting the second phase of qualification in late September and early October.

While many established stars of women’s handball will be on court, it will also be an opportunity for young players to begin to make their mark in the senior squads – some on debut while others look to strengthen their position.

Here are our top five young players to watch in the first round of EHF EURO 2018 Qualification matches on September 27/28 and September 30/October 1.

All qualifiers will be streamed live on ehfTV.com.

Leonora Demaj (Right back) – Kosovo

Right back Leonora Demaj was crucial in Kosovo’s first successful attempt at reaching the second phase of EHF EURO Qualification. The 20-year-old scored a staggering total of 27 goals in her nation’s two qualification phase 1 matches – 11 against Georgia then 16 versus Israel in the games in June.

While other young players on the list might have to wait for their moment to shine amongst tough competition, Demaj will likely be a key part of Kosovo’s line-up from the outset when they meet Hungary and the Netherlands in the first qualification matches.

Malin Aune (Right wing) – Norway

At 22, Malin Aune is the youngest member of the defending champions’ squad. The right wing made her debut with the senior national team in 2015 after winning medals in younger age categories – bronze at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2011 and Youth World Championship in 2012.

Aune was part of the team that raised the EHF EURO 2016 trophy in Sweden and is playing her first EHF Champions League season in 2017/18 with debutants Vipers Kristiansand. Aune had an important role in Vipers’ successful Champions League qualification, scoring 14 goals in two matches. 

Katrin Kljuber (Right wing) – Hungary

Right wing Katrin Kljuber showed she is a lethal attacking asset this summer, when she was one of Hungary’s most prolific scorers at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2017. 18-year-old Kljuber was a key part of Hungary’s fourth-place finish at the EURO, where she tallied 38 goals and earned a place in the All-star Team.

Stela Posavec (Centre back) – Croatia

21-year-old centre back Stela Posavec was the clear leader of Croatia teams while playing in younger age category events, and now makes the move to the senior squad alongside her twin sister, left wing Paula.

Not only is Stela Posavec an exceptional playmaker influential in guiding her team’s attack, she is also an unusually high scorer for a centre back.

Posavec was the top scorer of the Challenge Cup 2016/17 with 61 goals for club team HC Lokomotiva Zagreb, who raised the trophy after beating H 65 Höörs HK in the two-leg final. She was also one of Croatia’s leading scorers at the last youth-age event for her generation, tallying 51 goals at the Women’s Junior World Championship 2015.

Maitane Etxeberria (Right wing) – Spain

The 2012 Olympic bronze-medal winning Spain women’s team are in a transitional period following some notable retirements and a change in coach from long-term leader Jorge Duenas to Carlos Viver.

One of the new additions to the squad is 20-year-old right wing Maitane Etxeberria, who made her debut in the EHF Champions League as early as the 2013/14 season playing for Balonmano Bera Bera. This season the Spanish club is playing the EHF Cup, where they have already made their way through the first qualification phase.

Etxeberria was part of the Spain team that finished eighth at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2015, where she scored 34 goals, before tallying 15 at the Women’s Junior World Championship 2016.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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