28.02.2013, 05:20
Ukraine’s women’s national team starts building momentum

Head coach Leonid Ratner gathers his players to test some talents

Ukraine’s women’s national team starts building momentum

More than two months after a rather disappointing campaign at EHF EURO 2012, when Ukraine failed to make it to the Main Round, the women’s national team met for the first time in 2013 to build up the right momentum for a better start to the current year.

The head coach, 75-year-old veteran Leonid Ratner, and his assistant, Georgy Voronov, have about three months to form a strong team as the first real challenge for Ukraine will be the 2013 World Championship Play-Off matches against Germany at the beginning of June.

For this first training camp Zaporozhye the coaching staff called in players just from domestic clubs.

"We want to see our future. We gathered all the best that we have in the whole country," said Ratner.

With Natalya Turkalo, Viktoriia Tsybulenko, and Iryna Stelmakh only three players from the EHF EURO 2012 squad were present, while for many of the additional 13 players it was the first training camp with the national team.

Tsybulenko, who was the domestic league’s top scorer in 2011 and 2012, will leave HC Sparta at the end of the season to join Karpaty, currently the leading team in Ukraine.

Together with Turkalo she took the rookies under her wings to help them adapt to the new atmosphere.

Over the course of the five-day camp, Ratner put the main focus on improving his players’ individual technical skills and the team’s overall game in defence.

"Two or three of these newcomers will have the chance to prove their force when the players from the foreign clubs will join us for the next training camp in March," the head coach said.

Ukraine’s women’s national team will gather near Kiev in mid-March before playing some friendly matches in Turkey during the women’s national team week which takes place between 18 and 24 March.

The first leg of the 2013 World Championship Play-Offs will take place on 1 or 2 June, the second leg the weekend after.

TEXT: Igor Grachov / ts

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