The Olympic Games in Rio and the European Championship in Sweden are the two international competitions Tomas Ryde's Romania hopes to qualify for this year.
March will be a key month for the near future of Romanian women's handball. After taking bronze at this winter's World Championship, Romania will try to qualify for the European Championship and the Summer Olympic Games.
In order to get to Rio, Romania will play a qualifying tournament in Aarhus between the 18th and the 20th of March, facing Denmark, Montenegro and Uruguay. If the South-American team should be an easy target, the European ones in this group are very strong. With only two places that qualify for the Olympics up for grabs, Ryde's players will need to be on top of their form to gain access to Rio.
Romania played against Denmak at the World Championship this past December. At Herning, the team defeated the hosts after extra-time, during a memorable match that ended with a single goal separating the teams. At the same tournament, Denmark played two matches against Montenegro, losing the first one by two goals in the group stage, but winning the second one by a clear margin during the placement matches.
For those who like statistics, it is worth mentioning that Romania finished the World Championship in 3rd place, while Denmark and Montenegro finished 6th and 8th respectively. All three teams have great players in their squads and it is very hard to pick two favourites for going forward to the Olympics.
Until then, Romania will face the world and european champions Norway in a double header for qualification for the European Championship which will take place in December in Sweden. The first match will take place at Cluj on the 9th of March, while Stavanger will host the second one on the 13th. In a group which also contains Belarus and Lithuania - teams which lost one match apiece with Norway and Romania until now - it is hard to believe that the two main favourites will miss their flights to Sweden come December.
At national team level, the excellent marketing campaign, helped by the good results witnessed lately and the bringing of Ryde as coach last year, made Romania stand out again. The Polyvalent Hall in Cluj will surely be full for the third time in one year for everybody to see Romania's best handball players at work. A meeting with a world champion team can't be missed.
Ryde's squad for all of March's matches is in majority the same as the one we could see at the World Championship, but a few new names stand out. Denisa Dedu was brought as a third goalkeeper, while Florina Chintoan, Laura Popa, Bianca Tiron and Mădălina Zamfirescu are the new faces in Romania's team. Of the ones from the World Championship, Melinda Geiger and Crina Pintea are missing.
The whole 19 player team, of which finally 17 will be chosen, is:
- Paula Ungureanu, Ionica Munteanu, Denisa Dedu - goalkeepers
- Adriana Nechita, Laura Chiper - right wings
- Valentina Ardean Elisei, Ana Maria Tănăsie - left wings
- Oana Manea, Florina Chintoan - pivot
- Aurelia Brădeanu, Luciana Marin, Eliza Buceschi, Patricia Vizitiu, Laura Popa, Mărălina Zamfirescu, Cristina Neagu, Gabriela Perianu, Gabriella Szucs, Bianca Tiron - back line
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