Aleksandr Kabanov: Now everyone’s leaner and meaner

The Russian women’s water polo team came fourth at the European championships 2012. It lost the semi-final to the Italians and in the match for Bronze, unexpectedly yielded to Hungary. Despite this, the main objective – to qualify for the Olympic Qualification tournament – has been achieved.

Head-coach, Aleksandr Kabanov, discusses what happened and explains why the team did not make top three in Eindhoven.

– Aleksandr – fourth place – is this acceptable or is it a disaster?

Naturally, it is not the result that we would be happy with. But at the same time, I would not call it a disaster. In the semi-final, there were objective reasons, but we still should have won against Italy. What are the reasons? Both our goalkeepers were ill. There was not much we could do about it, although everyone tried hard. Perhaps, in some instances we lacked a bit of luck and in some we did not have enough skills.

– But the main objective was still achieved……

Possibly missing the Qualification tournament? We could not even think about it.

In our plans, we were confident about qualifying without special preparation. That is why we had a short period together prior to the European championships. All national players had been with their clubs until 28 January playing in the National championships. We assembled on 2 February and flew to Greece for a warm-up tournament the next day.

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of our girls’ performance in Greece and at the beginning of the European championships. I thought we would be tenser without a proper build up. Functionally, the team was in good condition. Mentally, we were also in a good frame of mind. The semi-final’s outcome was psychologically crippling though.

– And what happened in the match with Hungary?

May be the girls had too much desire to win. Nothing worked. We created a lot of goal scoring moments but were over-playing, making superfluous movements when it was not necessary. As the result, good opportunities were not converted.

– But it is important to avoid these problems at the Qualification tournament and the Games…

We simply cannot afford these sort of things to come into our play there. Everyone is annoyed now. May be what happened is of benefit to us. There is a bit of soul searching going on and, hopefully, everybody will have a different, better, attitude in training and matches…

– How is the mood among the girls now?

They are certainly disappointed. Who likes to lose? But it is important not to dramatize it. And nobody does. Even from the body language, one can say that the girls became ‘leaner and meaner’ in a positive sporting sense of the word. This is good.

– What’s next?

The National championships quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals’ will be held soon. On February 29, we will be playing in the first round of the European Champions Cup with a reciprocal match to be held 7 March. Afterwards, the National squad will get together for the Qualification tournament preparation.

– Where will the preparation be held?

The first part of it will be in Kirishi where a serious international tournament – with participating teams from China, Greece, Italy, the USA, Canada and some others – will be held. To me, it will be a stronger tournament than the European championships. Afterwards, we will be having a training camp at our base “Lake Round” from 3 April. On 12 April we will fly to Italy for the Qualification tournament.

– There you must be in top 3…

Yes, this is a very important task. In our plans, we treat it as a more serious event than the European championships.

Source: “Чемпионат.com”
Author: Grygory Mitin
Translation: Erkin Shagaev

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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