January 28, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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Slovaks start the domestic tournament: let's start against the top candidate!

Slovaks start the domestic tournament: let’s start against the top candidate!

In the photo, coach of the Slovak national handball team Petr Kokochka Source: TASR / Pavel Neubauer

KOŠICE / BRATISLAVA – With the ambition to achieve a historic first win in the European Championship in their fourth participation and to fight to rise from the main group, Slovak handball players will enter the fray in the domestic European championships. They will kick off the match on Thursday at 8:30pm at the Estel Arena in Kosice with a duel with very favorite Norway.

The Slovaks will not have an easy task, in addition to the bronze metal defenders and silver medalists from the 2017 World Cup and the Norwegians 2019, they will meet in Group F with the unexpected Lithuania (January 15 at 6 pm) and after returning the goalkeeper to Russia (January 17 at 6 pm) evening). Through Lithuania and Russia the road can lead to the points and advance to the main stage. “These are opponents we can fight for victory,” Slovakian helmsman Petr Kokochka said immediately after the tie.

In a major event ten years later

The representatives of Slovakia will present themselves in the first event after ten years, this time their participation was guaranteed by the role of co-host with Hungary. They last presented at the 2012 European Championship in Serbia, where they took the last 16th place, but in a duel with the home team, they won their first point of the European Championship after a tie at 21:21. In previous engagements among the European elite in 2006 and 2008, the Slovaks lost all duels and ended up at the bottom of the rankings. So far, they have a 0-1-8 balance in the European Championship with a score of 240:293.

“There are definitely three tough duels ahead of us and I want us to go the maximum in each one. We want to present ourselves with a good match, so that the spectators can feel good and appreciate our fighting ability. That’s it.” said coach Kokochka, who finished the tournament ten years ago as a player.

His team didn’t have to play a qualifying match, they played European Cup duels instead. But they did not score any points in the six encounters in the strong competition of Hungary, Croatia and Spain, and have been waiting for a long time to win the international showdown.

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Male trainer in the photo
Photo Gallery (4)
Source: TASR / Jaroslav Novak

The Slovaks will enter the tournament without checking the match, as after one player tested positive, they had to cancel both of last week’s preliminary duels with Austria in Vienna and Bratislava. The coronavirus hit the mission even after moving to Kosice on Sunday, a member of the implementation team reportedly tested positive.

According to Sportnet, this should be an assistant coach, Radoslav Antel. However, according to Kukuček, all players are in good health: “None of them have any problems and I hope it stays that way until the first match with Norway. We have nothing to lose in it, the opponent is clearly the favourite.”

There is no pre-match

The holiday will be followed by a duel with Lithuania, in which the Slovaks failed in the 2021 World Cup and return to the European Championship after 24 years. On Monday, traditional opponents from previous qualifiers, Russia, awaits the hosts – they met together in the fight for the 2018 and 2020 European Championships and the 2019 World Cup. “Russia is a strong opponent, but we managed to play close matches with him in the previous qualifiers”, He said about the last opponent in the Kokuka group.

He is sorry that the team could not test his current strength in a fierce match: “It’s always different in him than in training, but I hope it’s not so noticeable. We can’t influence it and a lot of the teams that will start in the tournament haven’t played a single match in preparation. Overall, this tournament and preparing for that is special. Something pops up every day. And we have to be very flexible.”

Peter Kokochka
Photo Gallery (4)
Source: SITA / Martin Havran

Ten years ago, winger Tomáš Urban of Bundesliga Minden also started in the European Championship. Despite the strength of his opponents, he also hopes to not finish the tournament after the first three matches: “We have to have high goals, so we want to get out of the group. On the other hand, we have to stay grounded because we can say that we are an outsider in this group. Even for our viewers.”

The highlight of his career is the domestic European championships of 32-year-old Patrik Hruščák, a member of HK Košice, who has already worked in several foreign clubs: “We’re looking at it, we’re at home, we want to get the most out of it and give our best. We have nothing to lose. We want to rely on strong defenses and quick counterattacks. It’s a pity that a quarter of our energy can come from where “In Steel Arena, The atmosphere will push us forward, but we can’t do anything about it. We want to play a good game against the Norwegians, but two more matches against Lithuania and Russia will probably be more important for us.”

“It’s good that we are playing with them for the first time. In that we will get rid of the concussions and then we will focus on the matches that are most important to us. The Norwegians are the leaders of the world, they are able to press for 60 minutes. We followed the tactics laid down by the coach “, said Patrik Hrushak, a member of the Slovak team’s clutch board.

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Slovakia coach Peter
Photo Gallery (4)
Source: TASR – Radovan Stoklasa

Due to positive tests for the Corona virus, the two teams lost several preparatory matches, while the Slovaks fared worse in this regard. They did not play a single duel, they canceled the two planned matches with Austria. In preparation for the European Championship, the Norwegians met Denmark and lost to it 25:35. They also lost to the same opponent in the quarter-finals of the Olympics (25:31).

“They have their quality, but the first match can be tricky. They have 2-3 exceptionally good players in every position. We have studied their strength and we know that their greatest strength lies in both sides. I don’t want us to do that. Go into the match with fear. The opponent is the favourite. Obviously the favourite, we have to play from the start and leave everything there,” Famous coach SR Kukučka. He has 19 players at his disposal (due to the coronavirus and isolation, Tomash Richar, Igor Zubrina and Lukasz Urban were all eliminated during preparations) and the lineup is almost clear: “But we will not name the 16 Norwegian players until the morning of the match,” he added.

You can’t focus on just one player

Experienced winger Tomáš Urban knows many of the Norwegian team’s support from the Bundesliga, but he also understands that the strength of the first Slovak opponent lies in the entire Norwegian team. “They have the star Sander Sajosen, as well as Harald Reinkind and Kent Robin Tonsen. They are world-class players. You can’t focus on just one player, but these are a higher category. It will be up to us to focus on our performance.” for us to get a good result. We have to play fast and punish the opponent for every missed opportunity.” Male T. Urban. Sagosin was the previous European Championship top scorer in 2020.

Candidates for Slovak handball players for the European Championship 2022:

goalkeepers: Theodor Paul (Ossam Nemes Gaard/father), Marian Cernovich (FTC Budapest/Hungary), Michal Martin Konin (BM Ángel Ximénez Puente Genil/Šp.)

Axes: Dominic Calafot (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen / Germany), Martin Slaninka (HSC Suhr Aarau / CHE), Simon Macháč (SBS-Eger / Hungary)

wings: Tomáš Urban (TSV GWD Minden / Nem.), Marek Kovac (Handball Sportunion Leoben / Rak.), Martin Briatka (MŠK Považská Bystrica), Lukáš Péchy (HC Sporta Hlohovec)

coupling: Jakub Prokop, Tomáš Smetánka (both Viveros Herol BM Nava / Šp.), Martin Potisk (ThSV Eisenach / Nem.), Marek Henijak (HC Burgenland / Nem.), Ľubomír Ďuriš (HE-DO B.Braun Gyöngy.)ös , Jacob Mikita (FTC Budapest/Hungary), Marek Korpel (Talent Belsen/Czech Republic), Oliver Rabek (Tatran Presov), Patrik Hroscak (HK Kosice)

The program of matches in Group F in Kosice:

Thursday January 13:

18.00 hours Russia – Lithuania
8.30 pm Norway – Slovakia

Saturday 15 January:

6 pm Slovakia – Lithuania
8.30 pm Norway – Russia

Monday January 17:

6 pm Slovakia – Russia
8:30 pm Lithuania – Norway

Photo gallery of the article
Number of photos: 4

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  • source: TASR