Ukraine ready to get among the medals
The new head coach of the Ukrainian women’s beach handball national team, 52-year-old Valentyn Vakula and former coach turned assistant Maya Karbunar are determined to bring past glory back.
Curiously, when Ukraine’s women’s team won the first international championships in beach handball, the 2000 European Beach Handball Championship in Italy and 2001 World Games in Japan, Vakula was the assistant of head coach Andrey Portnoy and Karbunar was one of the brightness players of that golden team.
Now the coaching stuff pursues a serious aim at the European Beach Handball Championship in Randers, Denmark (9-14 July).
“The minimum level for us in Scandinavia will be getting a ticket for the next World Championship, a place in the top four.
“Certainly, we want to come back to Ukraine with the main prize – the title,” said Valentin Vakula.
They finished in ninth place at the 2011 championships in Umag, Croatia and they will need to qualify from their group if they wish to improve on that in Randers.
“There are very strong opponents in our group. I think all teams are approximately equal. Each duel will be very interesting. After all, many matches in our group will be probably be decided in the shoot-outs.
“I think that psychology – is the main factor of success in Randers,” admits Vakula.
The squad contains experienced players like Olga Laiuk, Irina Glibko, Alla Sheiko, Kateryna Chumak, Valeriya Zorya and a number debutants who are aspiring to be on top.
“First phase of preparations was during the Ukrainian Beach Handball Championship (26-30 June) with participation of seven teams in Skadovsk in the Kherson region.
“Our team, Legion XXI Kiev, with six players of the national team, won the national championship for the first time.
“From 1 to 5 July we stay in Skadovsk with 14 players for the last trainings, before we announce the ten woman team,” says Vakula.
Ukraine’s captain Olga Laiuk, member of the national team for over ten years, expects a better result than in Croatian Umag two years ago.
“First of all, we want qualify for the 2014 World Championship, but I’ll be really happy with a medal.
“We have very tough group with Croatia, Norway, Hungary, Poland and Russia. It is more difficult company, than in the group B. I think we need to beat Poland and in straight sets.
“To my mind, the favourites, Croatia, Hungary and Norway, gathered in our group. That’s why every match will be very important and we try to reach the next round,” says Laiuk.
In Group A of the 2013 European Beach Handball Championship, Ukraine will face Norway, Croatia (9 July), Russia, Poland (10 July) and Hungary (11 July). Best four teams will advance to the quarter-finals.
Ukrainian women’s provisional squad for the 2013 European Beach Handball Championship:
Daria Matviyenko, Iana Sitenko, Yelyzaveta Hilyazetdinova; Alla Sheiko, Viktoriya Belmas, Kseniia Protsenko, Anastasiia Metelska, Iryna Stelmakh, Ivanna Myhovich, Valeriya Zorya, Olga Laiuk, Iryna Glibko, Kateryna Chumak, Yuliya Andriychuk.
Information about the European Championship
The 2013 European Beach Handball Championship throw off in Randers, Denmark, from 9 to 14 July 2013.
Entry to the event area for spectators is free. There are no tickets necessary.
Defending champions in both the men's and the women's event are the teams from Croatia.
For more information and to keep up to date visit also the event's official website and become a fan of the EHF's beach handball Facebook page.
TEXT: Igor Grachov / cor