The team of Russia
Coach: Vyacheslav Kirilenko
Key players: Milana Tazhenova (left back), Elena Mikhaylichenko (centre back), Olga Scherbak (centre back)
Qualification information: 2016 IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship – Winners
History in tournament: 1977: 2nd*, 1979: 1st*, 1981: 1st*, 1983: 1st*, 1985: 1st*, 1987: 1st*, 1989: 1st*, 1991: 1st*, 1993: 1st, 1995: 8th, 1997: 2nd, 1999: 5th, 2001: 1st, 2003: 1st, 2005: 1st, 2008: DNQ, 2010: 2nd, 2012: 5th, 2014: 2nd, 2016: 2nd
*As Soviet Union
Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, are the undisputed powerhouses at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship. After taking silver at the maiden event in 1977, the Soviet Union won every title at the bi-annual tournament from 1979 to 1991. Since 1993, Russia have taken four gold medals and four silver, to collect the same number of medals as the Soviet Union – eight – though not as many trophies.
Still, as the squad to contest Hungary 2018 are the current Youth world champions, who also placed second at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2017, they are one of the favourites to make it to the medal round. As they placed second at three of the last four Junior World Championships, with their last trophy taken in 2005, it seems Russia can enter the competition with no lower ambition than to reclaim their place at the top of the podium.
“The Junior Russian team is one of the leaders in world handball, so we will do our best at the upcoming championship,” says head coach Vyacheslav Kirilenko, who has won a total of five World Championship and European titles leading Russia’s Youth and Junior teams, along with three silver medals at these events.
“To build up the play in defence will be the most important task for us, since we have attacking players who we can count on. We will have to come up with something in order to beat our opponents. An atmosphere in the team is also important for us; something we pay attention to at this moment.”
Several members of the squad already play for clubs that are strong enough to qualify for international EHF competitions, and therefore bring considerable experience with them to the Hungary 2018 court. Captain Milana Tazhenova wears the jersey of Astrakhanochka, while centre backs Elena Mikhaylichenko and Olga Scherbak both take the court for club Lada, who contested the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup in the 2017/18 season.
Russia began their preparation in May with a week-long training camp in Zvenigorod, followed by another in mid-June, and finally, a 10-day camp immediately prior to departure for Hungary. Also in May, they played the Junior FINAL4 on the fringe of the Women’s EHF Champions League finals in Budapest, defeated Montenegro 35:21 in the semi-final then losing 28:34 to Hungary in the final.
Group at Hungary 2018:
Group B: Russia, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, People’s Republic of China, Chile, Iceland
Games at Hungary 2018
All times local
Monday 2 July: Russia vs China (16:00)
Tuesday 3 July: Chile vs Russia (18:00)
Thursday 5 July: Russia vs Iceland (10:00)
Friday 6 July: Slovenia vs Russia (18:00)
Sunday 8 July: Russia vs Korea (14:00)