2014 European Championships Qualifiers: NED 9 : 11 RUS
February 19, 2014 4 Comments
It was a difficult affair. The hosts, naturally, wanted to win and have been preparing very seriously. They left no stone unturned and even had sent a video technician to record our World League match with Romania on 11 February. They learnt everything about us and studied our every move.
For us, that game with the Netherlands was among the most important in the current season. That is why there appeared to be some degree of constrain in our players’ actions at the beginning. Their excitement was noticeable due to the occasion. The atmosphere at the venue was great. 1500 spectators dressed in orange colors came to support their team and were seated very close to the field of play. All these factors had their influence upon our players at the beginning when the Dutch went ahead 3:0. However, by the end of the first period, we managed to cope with emotions and subsequently not only equalized the score but went ahead for a three goals difference to achieve a required final result.
According to some statistical data, that was the best game we played in 2014 so far. We let in only 2 ‘field goals’ and scored 4 ourselves. Our conversion of ‘extra-man’ was 87,5% – 7 goals from 8 opportunities. Our defense in ‘man-down’ situations was 50%; they realized 5 from 10 attempts. We must improve that indicator in a return match. The Dutch also converted 1 penalty shot. The statistics shows that we have been given twice as many turn over fouls – something that needs to be addressed in the upcoming games.
At this stage, I am satisfied with how the entire team played under rather difficult circumstances. On the eve of the match, several our players were unwell, some even had high fever. I was pleased to see the fighting spirit and leadership qualities displayed, in particular, by captain, Artem Odintcov, Aleksey Ryzhov-Alenichev, Albert Zinnatulin and Aleksandr Yatcenko. Even though it is difficult to single someone out as all contributed well, I should like to name Artem Odintcov, Dmitry Kholod, Roman Shepelev and Ivan Nagaev as our best players in that match.
We are aware that the Dutch will be preparing very seriously towards the second encounter and will do everything possible to be ready for a difficult game. Due to the density of our internal calendar, we will have little time for preparation, but I have no doubt that the professional attitude that characterized our athletes’ conduct at all National squads’ events so far will be a decisive factor and will help us achieve a desired result.