The team of Portugal
Coach: Ana Seabra
Key Players: Beatriz Faria Sousa (Right Back), Diana Oliveira (Right Wing)
Qualification for Hungary 2018: European qualification tournaments – Group 1 runners-up
History in Tournament: 1977-95: DNQ, 1997: 6th, 1999-2001: DNQ, 2003: 10th, 2005-12: DNQ, 2014: 16th, 2016: DNQ
Hungary 2018 will be the fourth IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship for Portugal. Even though it was not easy for them to book their tickets, the team have shown an evolution since the Women’s U19 EURO — where they placed 14th.
In Group A, Portugal had an excellent start to the European qualification, beating their neighbours Spain 28:25. Afterwards, they lost to Austria 24:22 and finished their campaign with a 34:15 win over Bulgaria.
Right wing Diana Oliveira is one of the key players of the team. She plays her club handball at Portugal’s first division Clube Maiastars together with left back Mihaela Minciuna. Another key player for coach Ana Seabra is Madeira SAD right back Beatriz Faria Sousa – winner of the 2017/18 Portuguese National League and top scorer of her national team in the European qualification tournaments for Hungary 2018 with 20 goals.
40-year-old coach Ana Seabra, who played more than 200 international matches in the Portugal jersey during her career as a left wing, says: “Our athletes are very ambitious and focused on the goals we establish for each match. Our team spirit allows us to work play-by-play and not get carried away by positive results.”
Seabra is waiting for some of her players to fully recover before the start of the 2018 IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship. “We had some injuries but we will try and overcome them by keeping our athletes disciplined and very goal-oriented,” she explains.
Portugal will share Group A with the hosts Hungary, Norway, Montenegro, Pan American Champions Brazil and Côte d’Ivoire. For the young coach “it is a very difficult group for which we have much respect, namely because of the work that has been developed by those countries in junior teams.
“We will do our best to play well and won’t put much pressure on our players. We want to be ambitious and competitive and in order for that to happen we need to work our best,” she points out.
To prepare for Hungary 2018, Portugal will participate in a Four Nations Cup in France from 22-24 June – versus the hosts, Germany and Spain. Seabra believes that the competition helps them fulfil their ambitious goals: “Our dream is to achieve the best result ever of an U20 team in Portugal, which is the 6th place [at the 1997 World Championship]. That’s our focus!”
Group at Hungary 2018:
Group A: Hungary, Norway, Montenegro, Brazil, Portugal, Côte d’Ivoire
Games at Hungary 2018:
All times local
Monday 2 July: MNE-POR (14:00)
Wednesday 4 July: POR-HUN (18:00)
Thursday 5 July: BRA-POR (20:00)
Saturday 7 July: NOR-POR (15:30)
Sunday 8 July: POR-CIV (16:00)