The team of Spain
Coach: Imanol Alvarez
Key Players: Seynabou Mbengue Rodriguez (Right Back), Elisabet Cesareo Romero (Left Back)
Qualification for Hungary 2018: European qualification tournaments – Group 1 winners
History in Tournament: 1977-83: DNQ, 1985: 15th, 1987: 11th, 1989: 8th, 1991-97: DNQ, 1999: 6th, 2001: 4th, 2003: DNQ, 2005: 11th, 2008: 4th, 2010: 10th, 2012: 14th, 2014: DNQ, 2016: 12th
Even though they did not have the start they expected at the Hungary 2018 European qualification tournament, Spain managed to finish on top of Group 1. After a 25:28 loss to their neighbours Portugal, the Spaniards showed their strengths when defeating Bulgaria 34:13 and Austria 37:26.
“We have a great collective way of playing, and if the defence is effective we can run and make fast breaks,” analyses coach Imanol Alvarez. “When compared to other national teams, we might miss a bit of exterior shooting but if we manage to play our game we can overcome that.”
Left back Rocio Rojas Asensio, who is still celebrating the promotion to Spain’s first division that she claimed with BM Morvedre, was her national team’s top scorer at the Qualification Europe with 20 goals. That position is well-covered, as Imanol Alvarez also puts a lot of trust in Aula Valladolid’s Elisabet Cesareo – who can also play as a line player.
Right back Seynabou Mbengue is a key player at her club team Rocasa Gran Canaria, which were runners up at the last EHF Cup – in which she scored 51 goals. She can surely provide solutions for Spain at the 2018 IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship.
Group D is without any doubt one of the toughest at Hungary 2018, featuring France, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Egypt and Sweden. “It’s a very difficult group, we must try to be amongst the best four teams and reach the eighth-finals, but we know that just one mistake can send us home,” says Alvarez. “As per the rivals, Germany, France and Sweden can be a step beyond the rest, which is why the qualification for the next round is so complicated.”
Spain started their World Championship preparation at the High Performance Centre in Sierra Nevada, working on tactical systems at high altitude. Afterwards, they trained in Madrid until they travelled to France to play a Four Nations Tournament against the hosts, Germany and Portugal from 22-24 June.
“Our dream is clear: we would love to be World Champions!” states Imanol Alvarez. “But we know that we have a hard way until getting there. The main objective is to go day by day and reach as far as possible. This means to go out of the group phase first.”
Group D: France, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Egypt and Sweden
Games at Hungary 2018
All times local
Monday 2 July: ESP-EGY (20:00)
Tuesday 3 July: SWE-ESP (20:00)
Thursday 5 July: GER-ESP (12:00)
Friday 6 July: ESP-FRA (18:00)
Sunday 8 July: ESP-CRO (12:00)