Veteran players boost Netherlands for Denmark, Hungary qualifiers

PREVIEW: After four years away from the national team, Netherlands right back Mark Bult makes his return for next month’s EHF EURO 2018 qualifiers against Denmark and Hungary

Photo: EHF

Netherlands coach Joop Fiege has done it twice before. And now he is doing it again.

For the third time since becoming head coach in 2014, Fiege has persuaded an experienced former international player to return to the national team.

Earlier, he asked left back Fabian van Olphen and goalkeeper Gerrie Eilers back.

This time, he is getting 34-year-old right back Mark Bult into the orange jersey again for the EHF EURO 2018 qualifiers against Denmark and Hungary in Group 1 in the first week of November.

The VfL Gummersbach lefthander, who has been away from the Dutch team for more than four years, is the most notable name in the preliminary 28-player squad, which Fiege announced a few days ago.

Having scored 293 times in 85 games, Bult’s last match for the Netherlands came in June 2012, a 32:24 home defeat to Poland in the World Championship Play-offs. 

Bult has just started in his fourth season with Gummersbach, and in his 14th season overall in the German Bundesliga.

He previously played for HSG Nordhorn (2003 to 2007) and Füchse Berlin (2007 to 2013), interrupted by a brief two-month stint in 2010 at current VELUX EHF Champions League winners KS Vive Tauron Kielce.

Long-term trust for Fiege

Coach Fiege is aware that he needs the experience of veteran players like Bult, Van Olphen and Eilers on court to help further build his team.

The Dutch Handball Federation is pleased with the progress by the national men’s team under Fiege.

The NHV extended the coach’s contract until 2017 – with an option for another year – in June, shortly after the Netherlands had celebrated their first win in handball history over Poland.

That 25:24 victory in the World Championship Play-offs was not enough to compensate for the 27:21 loss from the first leg in Poland, but the upward trend for ‘Oranje’ has been obvious.

Fiege will keep combining his work for the Netherlands with coaching a club team. Previously in charge of Dutch side Hurry Up, he moved to RTV 1879 Basel in Switzerland in the off-season.  

Qualifying for the EHF EURO 2020 in Austria, Sweden and Norway is the clear target that the NHV has set for the national men’s team.

Regarding the fierce competition in the upcoming qualifying campaign for EHF EURO 2018, Fiege will soon find out where his team really stands.

Denmark, Hungary and Latvia will prove a tough test in Group 1. Only the top two nations of each group and the best third-placed team overall will earn a ticket to Croatia.

The Netherlands travel to Brøndby to take on Olympic champions Denmark on 3 November before hosting Hungary in Den Bosch three days later.

The Dutch preliminary squad for the EHF EURO 2018 qualifiers against Hungary and Denmark

Goalkeepers: Bart Ravensbergen (Sélestat Alsace Handball), Gerrie Eijlers (GWD Minden), Luuk Hoiting (OCI/Lions), Dennis Schellekens (KRAS/Volendam)

Court players: Iso Sluijters (TV Emsdetten), Tommie Falke (JMS/Hurry-Up), Kay Smits (Wilhelmshavener HV), Ivo Steins (OCI/Lions), Luc Steins (Massy Essonne Handball), Dario Polman (HSG Krefeld), Joris Baart (OCI/Lions), Bobby Schagen ( TVB 1898 Stuttgart), Toon Leenders (Targos/Bevo HC), Léon van Schie (KRAS/Volendam), Jeffrey Boomhouwer (MT Melsungen), Patrick Miedema (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Arjan Haenen (MT Melsungen), Nicky Verjans (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Tim Remer (TuS N-Lübbecke), Fabian van Olphen (SC Magdeburg), Jasper Adams (Emsdetten), Nick de Kuyper (Targos/Bevo HC), Lino Janssen (OCI/Lions), Samir Benghanem (FIQAS/Aalsmeer), Robin Boomhouwer (Olse Merksem), Jort Neuteboom (TuS Ferndorf), Mark Bult (VfL Gummersbach), Jorn Smits (Randers HH)

written by Eric Willemsen / ts