More than a trio vying for medals at the Women’s 19 EHF EUROArticle
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PREVIEW: Russia, Romania, Denmark and Germany are named favourites for the upcoming under-19 European Championships in Valencia, however there is a number of teams that have the potential to break into their phalanx

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More than a trio vying for medals at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO

There is some reason to celebrate at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO in Valencia, Spain even before the medals have been awarded, as the upcoming tournament from 23 July to 2 August marks the event’s tenth edition.

Since 1996 women’s under-19 teams are taking to the court under the umbrella of the European Handball Federation. To date Russia is the most successful nation with three gold medals, one silver and two bronze, followed by Denmark (3/-/1) and Romania (2/-/1).

In particular the latter will be in the mix for a medal again. Two years ago the same generation of Danish players won bronze at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO and they added another bronze to their tally by coming third at last year’s Women’s Youth World Championship in FYR Macedonia.

"We have produced some fine results lately, and these obviously place us among the favourites, but actually I see five or six teams as possible European champions," says Danish head coach Flemming Dam Larsen.

"Russia and Romania first of all, but also Germany is a dangerous dark horse. I also tend to see Hungary among the favourites, and as they lost to France recently, the French women will also have to be regarded as one of the favourites."

While Russia won silver at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2013 and did not make it past the quarter-finals in FYR Macedonia, it was the other way round for Romania.

The team finished sixth at the EHF EURO 2013 only to surprise everyone by winning gold at the World Championship. “We are looking into the future with hope. This team can achieve everything it wants,” says Romania head coach Aurelian Roșca.

For Germany all eyes will be on 17-year-old Emily Bölk (pictured above). The left back was the MVP at last year’s Youth Women’s World Championship when Germany came second, with one of Bölk’s achievements being the feat of scoring 22 goals in the Last 16 game against Portugal.

"In general, our expectations for the EHF EURO are quite high. We want to play a successful tournament and if we manage to repeat a success like last year, it would simply be brilliant. But to fight for a medal again, we need to be at our highest level," she says.

The Women’s EHF EURO 2013 was won by Sweden who then bowed out to Russia in the Last 16 of the Women’s Youth World Championship 2014, and it remains to be seen how far they can go this time.

At the event in Valencia 16 teams start in the preliminary round. Denmark, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia are in Group A; Russia, FYR Macedonia Germany and Lithuania make Group B. Sweden, Romania, Hungary and France were drawn to Group C, while Portugal, Norway, Spain and Belarus face in Group D.

The first two teams of each group qualify for the main round from which again the first two teams qualify for the semi-final.

The final and the match for third place will be played on 2 August; the semi-finals take place two days before.

TEXT: EHF / ts