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03.04.2019, 20:20
Anna Sen sets bar high for Rostov
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FEATURE: Replacing injured Anna Vyakhireva, Rostov-Don’s Anna Sen will be a key player when her team takes on Hungarian side FTC in the Women’s EHF Champions League Quarter-final
 

Anna Sen sets bar high for Rostov

For the second straight year Rostov-Don will face FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria in the Women’s EHF Champions League Quarter-final.

Last year Rostov won both matches (31:29 away, 32:22 at home) and comfortably advanced. This year the first leg will again take place in Hungary, on Sunday at 14:30 CET (live on ehfTV.com), with the return leg in Russia scheduled for Saturday 13 April.

Sunday’s match will bring back Rostov’s Anna Sen to a familiar country, as she played for Györi Audi ETO KC in 2014/15.

“I am always happy to visit Hungary. I have many friends there, they are looking forward to seeing me so I’ve bought some presents for them,” Sen tells ehfCL.com. “I have very warm memories about my year in this country, Budapest is a very nice city, and Hungarian fans are great.”

No easy journey

But it won’t become an easy journey as FTC are tough opponents, and the 28-year-old Sen is aware of that.

“They have a lot of quality, a great attack with some very talented young players. I just hope our defence will hold them back,” Sen says. “I don’t know who the favourites are, I don’t care what bookmakers think or experts say, but I just expect two very tough games and hope that we will go through.”

Last season, Sen returned from her maternity leave when Rostov took on FTC in the quarter-final. Looking back she says: “I was very happy that we won, and I was particularly grateful to our then coach Fred Bougeant for giving me an opportunity to play.”

Last summer Bougeant was replaced by Ambros Martin, who had also been Sen’s coach at Györ, and she was happy to welcome the Spaniard at Rostov.

“Ambros hasn’t changed since my time in Hungary – he only joked that maybe he now has more grey hair. He is still very emotional and always eager to win, even when we play football during training,” Sen says.

“At the age of 50, he is jogging with us, goes to the gym, and it motivates us to work harder. For me, Martin is the best coach of the world. He has made the team stick together and play for each other when some girls are injured.”

Sen was with Györ just for one season before moving back to Rostov in 2015.

“I went to Hungary only because I wanted to play in the EHF Champions League, and Györ gave me the opportunity,” she says. “But then things in Rostov changed for the better, and I accepted their offer to come back, as I think it’s better to play at home.”

Playing without Vyakhireva

Since late January, Rostov have been playing without Anna Vyakhireva, who had surgery on an injured elbow. Usually a left back, Sen has been replacing the MVP of the EHF EURO 2018 on the right back position.

“I think Vyakhireva is the MVP of the world, the best right back, and of course we miss a left-hander of her quality. Yet somehow we’ve adjusted to play without Anna and replace her in every possible way,” Sen says.

“I already had the experience of playing as a right back in the past, and the young Valeriia Maslova also helps,” she adds. “But we still harbour some hopes that maybe our leader will come back and help us at the end of the season.”

It would be a huge bonus if Vyakhireva could join the team for the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 on 11/12 May in Budapest. But obviously, Rostov will first need to get there.

Sen is perfectly aware of that, but she has set the highest goals for her team.

“Our immediate target is to beat FTC. We are fully focused, motivated and determined to reach the EHF FINAL4,” Sen says.

“And if we do so, we will fight for the title. I think every athlete should be a maximalist,” she adds. “Before the 2016 Olympics I said that we were going to Rio to win gold, and we ultimately did it. Now we also aim to go as far as possible.”


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ew
 
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