Slovakia keen to end 18-year wait
The last time Slovakia’s women’s national team competed in a major handball championship was back in 1995 at the World Championship in Austria and Hungary.
Since then, the national team, led by players like Katarína Dubajová and Dagmar Stuparičová, have been struggling to beat the qualifying trap and reach a major tournament.
The team, coached by Peter Sabadka and Lenka Černá, will have yet another chance in early June, when they face Romania in the play-off for the 2013 World Championship in Serbia.
Preparation for the crucial play-off match up started with a camp for 17 nominated players in Partizánske.
“We are only missing Dagmar Stuparičová (SV Union Halle-Neustadt/GER) and Simona Pileková (SG BBM Bietigheim/GER) from 2. Bundesliga, who play their league games during the weekend and Zuzana Janšáková (HK Danlog Partizánske) because of working commitments.
“Otherwise we have all the players that we will count on for the June matches against Romania," coach Peter Sabadka told eurohandball.com.
After four days training at home, the first friendly test will bring the team to Leiria in Portugal, a city halfway between Porto and Lisbon, where they will face three very different handball styles.
In the first match, Slovakia will come up against the ‘B’ team of world champions and silver medallists at the recent EHF EURO 2012, Norway.
“Norway will use their reserve team but with a few very experienced players from the first team, that will help the younger ones to adapt in the national team.
“We are always happy to play such strong handball countries. It is always good confrontation for us and the girls can learn their handball lesson,” explained Sabadka.
The following day, Slovakia will meet the home team, who failed to make it into the play-off stage for the competition after ending up second in their qualifying group behind Turkey.
“Portugal will be very strong and aggressive. They play powerful handball and a different style from Norway. They have quality and pose a threat, especially at home.“
On the last day of the tournament, Peter Sabadka ‘s team plays Spanish club Balonmano Porriňo, who currently lie sixth in the Spanish top flight.
“We will continue to improve our play, applying different situations into the game.
“The tournament in Portugal gives us the chance to test these things in real games. We are doing everything to be ready for June,” concluded Sabadka.
Sabadka took over Slovak women national team in the summer of 2011 together with Lenka Černá.
His message to the team impacted the mind of the players, who have formed a great team both on and off the court.
“Coach Peter Sabadka declared clearly, that he wants to build a strong team, with everyone working hard, fighting for each other.
“The World Championship is our dream. The whole team wants to achieve what we all believe we can do – beat the favourites from Romania.
“The tournament in Leiria should prepare us well and test our abilities at this stage of the season,” said Ivana Trochtová, a line player from Slovan Duslo Šaľa.
The squad gathered in Partizánske on Sunday, and have been training there before their departure to Portugal.
“We have perfect conditions in Partizánske, where we prepare. We have everything we need, we can concentrate only on handball.
“People from Partizánske love handball, our matches in the first phase of the qualification were sold out, so we are happy to be back,” Trochtová said in conclusion.
Slovakian national team for the tournament in Leiria, Portugal (22-24 March 2013):
Goalkeepers: Martina Túrociová (HK Slovan Duslo Šaľa), Adriana Medveďová (Iuventa Michalovce), Simona Súlovská (HK Danlog Partizánske)
Wingers: Petronela Kováčiková (TV Grenzach/GER), Lucia Súkenníková (HK Slovan Duslo Šaľa), Terézia Szöllösiová (Iuventa Michalovce)
Back court: Lýdia Jakubisová (Thüringer HC/GER), Alžbeta Tóthová (DHC Sokol Poruba/CZE), Monika Rajnohová, Zuzana Drotárová (both HK Britterm Veselí nad Moravou/CZE), Katarína Dubajová (ŠKP Piccard Senec), Klaudia Michnová (HK Danlog Partizánske), Marianna Rebičová (Iuventa Michalovce), Simona Szarková (HK Slovan Duslo Šaľa)
Line players: Ivana Trochtová (HK Slovan Duslo Šaľa), Eva Minárčiková (HK Danlog Partizánske), Dominika Horňáková (Iuventa Michalovce)
International tournament of Leiria schedule (All times in CET)
Friday 22nd March
20:00 Slovakia vs Norway 'B'
22:00 Portugal vs Porriňo
Saturday 23rd March
16:30 Porriňo vs Norway 'B'
18:30 Portugal vs Slovakia
Sunday 24th March
16:00 Portugal vs Norway 'B'
18:00 Slovakia vs Porriňo
TEXT: Tomáš Čunčík / cor