O female handball picker today maintained the traditional base of players summoned for the two play-off games with Germany, on Saturday and Tuesday, seeking an unprecedented presence in the World2021.
“There is no one new to be integrated at this time. We worked hard to get here and the processes are fully consolidated. The choice fell due to the current form of the players and to those who best fit in the face of the opponent who happened to us. We have a very cohesive group and a real knowledge of each athlete, ”said Ulisses Pereira, in a press conference.
The ‘quinas’ team will host the Germans, world champions in 1993 and eighth places in the 2019 edition, on Saturday, at 8:30 pm, at the Pavilhão Municipal do Luso, in Mealhada, three days before the meeting in Hamm, at 17:30 local (16:30 in Lisbon).
“If you ask 99% of the world of handball, you will hear that Germany is clearly a favorite. I agree, even for being a world power, but, after watching the games and studying the strengths and weaknesses, we realized that we have a chance to make a big surprise. We want to write history, packed a little by the success that men's handball has had and fills us with pride, and we are two games away from that feat ”, he added.
At Patrícia Rodrigues (Benfica) and Joana Resende (Paris 92) they are absent due to injury, but Ulisses Pereira praised a “group that gives guarantees” to continue “bringing the country closer to the great powers” and seeking “to take the leap forward now”.
“The goal is to win the game in Portugal and leave the tie open to Germany. It is a very solid team. He does not practice beautiful but very efficient handball, as in almost all German sport. On the defensive level, they are very strong, with very compact physical athletes. In the attack, they have excellent six-meter snipers, pivots that dent the opponent's defenses and know how to play fast ”, he described.
Aware of Germany's “greatest physical potential”, silver medal at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and European runner-up in 1994, the Portuguese coach believes that “defensive unpredictability” can help to reverse the odds.
“We will have to get out of the six meters to defend well and always come out in transitions. Games will have risks, but in order to achieve results and create some advantages, we have to take them. We are willing to do that, because the biggest risk we can take is not trying to surprise and, in that way, we will certainly not make it to the World Cup, ”he said.
In the batch of 20 elected are Anaís Gouveia (Fuchse Berlin), Isabel Góis (Neckarsulmer), Maria Pereira (Bad Wildungen) and Mariana Lopes (Bayer Leverkusen), all working in the German League and returning to Ulisses Pereira's options, after having the last stage in Rio Maior failed due to the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.
“I have the added value of playing against these athletes almost every weekend and I feel that I already have my tricks to try to help as much as possible. We will be ready and play an excellent role ”, pointed out Mariana Lopes, in the same press videoconference.
The center, 26 years old and in full third season on German soil, foresees a “really big challenge” for the Portuguese, considering that, if they “give the best”, even because they are only two games, there is “a great possibility of reaching victory and qualification ”.
“Throughout the course that I have had in the selection, I feel that there is always a qualification and then there will be another qualification. This is the first time that we feel that we are really close to the goal that we set so long ago. The fact that we are so close already passes the stage of nervousness, at least for me ”, he assured.
Qualified alongside Turkey, given the withdrawal from Finland, in Group 3 of the first qualifying round, Portugal started work today at the Luso Internship Center, aiming at its presence at the Mundial2021, to be held from December 2nd to 19th, in Spain .