Konyaaltı highly motivated for a turnaround
A tough challenge awaits Antalya Konyaaltı BSK in the last game of the season. Losing by a six-goal margin (23:17) to Club Balonmán Atlético Guardés in the first leg of the EHF European Cup Women final, Konyaaltı will rely on home advantage in the second leg on Sunday at 19:00 CEST.
The probability of being the first Turkish team ever to win a European competition in handball may be the biggest motivation for the team from Antalya. However, Yasemin Şahin, one of the top scorers of the European Cup and the captain of Konyaaltı, will not be on court due to a knee injury.
Konyaaltı’s Macedonian centre back Monika Janeska said she couldn’t tell what went wrong in the first leg of the final.
"There were many technical mistakes, the away game tension and et cetera. I think there is a part of everything in the ‘what went wrong’ at the end of the day. We all have bad days and I hope that one was ours,” she said.
With her motto ‘there’s nothing that can’t be fixed’, Janeska said they assessed their mistakes and worked on a solid strategy for the upcoming game. Playing in front of their fans will give them extra motivation to close the gap and score more than their guests scored in Spain.
“We will do everything in our power to win. We are highly motivated. The cup will stay at Türkiye,” Janeska emphasised.
Goalkeeper Sevilay İmamoğlu Öcal, the most experienced player at Konyaaltı BSK, said their rivals used the home advantage extremely well, as the Turkish team made too many simple mistakes both in defence and attack. İmamoğlu said they worked hard for the second game, had the better squad and will fight until the last moment to win the cup.
Upset by the six-goal gap, centre back Döne Gül Bozdoğan admits the first game’s score is fair considering their bad performance. Seeing the simple mistakes in attack were the main reason of their failure, Bozdoğan said they analysed the first game well to mimimise their mistakes.
“It’s a huge disadvantage to start the last game of the season with that kind of wide gap, but I’d like to remind (sic) that we defeated Michalovce under similar circumstances. We have full confidence that we’ll be able to lift the trophy at home,” Bozdoğan said confidently.
Disappointed by their game in Spain, left back Alena Ikhneva said: "We made lots of simple mistakes in attack, couldn't use the chances and let the home team score simple goals. In other words, we made the game difficult for ourselves. That's how we lost."
So, what can the team do differently in the return leg?
“In the second match we should be task-oriented to fulfil our strategy, play better in attack and stay focused in defence. Also everyone has to play with motivation so only like that we close the gap of six goals and win the cup in front of our fans in Antalya,” Ikhneva said.
Antalya Konyaalti BSK head coach Birol Ünsal was aware of the difficulties in the away game, but he did not expect their opponents to use their home advantage so well with the pressure of spectators.
Still, he admitted Konyaaltı didn't play well, “as I couldn’t solve the problems in attack, tried to strengthen the defence. I changed the defence line from 6-0 to 5-1, it was a risky decision but worked. In the second half, we narrowed the gap to four but couldn't protect it," Ünsal said.
"The six-goal gap won't be important if our fans create a stressful atmosphere for our rivals. We are a good team, but it is not enough to just play well, we have to play very well."
photos (c) 2023 Tamara Alonso SportCoeco