FEATURE: These five players have impressed at the Women’s World Championship 2017 and for their respective clubs, and now aim to help their national teams along the road to the EHF EURO 2018
Five players stepping into the EHF EURO Qualification’s spotlight
Following the World Championship 2017 and several months of European cup competition since EHF EURO 2018 Qualification began, here are five players who have recently impressed and are likely to play a key role for their national teams in round 3 and 4 of the upcoming Women's EHF EURO 2018 Qualification.
Tjasa Stanko (Centre back) – Slovenia
21-year-old Tjasa Stanko has established herself as one of Slovenia’s top talents for the future since joining RK Krim Mercator for the 2017/18 season. She contributed 55 goals towards the club’s Women’s EHF Champions League campaign, making her the top scorer for the Slovenian side in her debut season in Europe’s top competition.
At the World Championship 2017 in Germany, Stanko was Slovenia’s second top scorer behind the well-known threat that is Ana Gros, as she tallied 28 goals. It was Slovenia’s first World Championship qualification since 2005, and Stanko also helped them secure the place in Germany with nine goals in the play-off double header against Croatia.
Stanko enters EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Round 3 as the second top scorer (17 goals) – just one behind Spain’s experienced right wing Carmen Martin.
Yuliya Dumanska (Goalkeeper) – Romania
At the age of 21, Yuliya Dumanska is already taking on considerable responsibility in the Romania team. At the World Championship 2017, Dumanska finished as the third best goalkeeper with a save rate of 40 per cent. Before joining the senior squad, Dumanska won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championship 2016. At that event, she finished as the top goalkeeper in the competition with a total of 107 saves at 42 per cent.
Playing for SCM Craiova in the Women’s EHF Cup, Dumanska helped her team pull off a shock comeback in the second leg of the quarter-final against Handball Club Lada, which took the Romanian club through to the semi-finals in their debut season in the competition. Her performance in the second-leg match included 13 saves and was highlighted by Lada coach Aleksander Khomutov as a key reason for Craiova’s victory.
Anna Lagerquist (Line player) – Sweden
When Sweden reached their first ever Women’s World Championship Semi-final at the end of 2017, there were several players that took their turn in the spotlight – and some who were consistently a threat. 24-year-old Anna Lagerquist was reliable throughout the Scandinavian side’s campaign in Germany, missing just seven shots in nine matches played to reach a tally of 18 goals at 72 per cent.
She is dangerous with the ball and without, demonstrating the power of a line player as she collaborates effectively with playmaker Isabelle Gullden to give others the opportunity to score. Only Nathalie Hagman recorded more court time than Lagerquist during the World Championship, showing how important the NFH – Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub player is for her team.
24 March, 16:00 hrs, Sweden vs Serbia
Lois Abbingh (Left back) – Netherlands
Lois Abbingh is not a new name for handball fans, but playing for the Netherlands alongside the likes of EHF EURO 2016 MVP Nycke Groot, World Championship 2017 All-star line player Yvette Broch, and World Championship 2015 All-star goalkeeper Tess Wester, the left back does not always receive the deserved attention.
Abbingh made it clear she is a key part of the Germany 2017 bronze medal-winning squad as she proved unstoppable from her position, finishing the World Championship as second top scorer (58 goals) behind Nora Mork and achieving selection in the All-star Team. Abbingh’s performances in Germany were critical to the Netherlands’ success, and she is likely to play an important role in the upcoming clashes against Hungary.
Dijana Ujkic (Right wing) – Montenegro
22-year-old right wing Dijana Ujkic has some big shoes to fill in her future, as she shares her position with EURO 2012 gold medallist and perennial All-star Team right wing Jovanka Radicevic. Given the world-class competition on the position, Ujkic did not enjoy so much playing time at the World Championship in Germany, but she is on the road to continuing the tradition of highly effective Montenegrin wings.
Playing for two-time EHF Champions League winners Buducnost, Ujkic has scored 29 goals to help the Montenegrin club reach the quarter-finals for the fifth consecutive season.
TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
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