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Date: 5/19/2017
 

Dane Morten Soubak was unveiled as the new head coach of the Angolan national women’s team late last week as the world of handball continues to make its changes in the early stages of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle. He replaces Filipe Cruz, who returns to his duties as Angolan men’s national coach.

 

At the media conference held last Friday (12 May) in Luanda, all six Angolan national team coaching teams were announced as Soubak presented his own – assistants Brazilian Alex Lucio Aprille and Angolan Edgar Neto – also coach of the women’s junior side.

 

The 52-year-old made it clear that he wanted to make the team a threat on the global stage, not just in Africa, where they are the continent’s strongest team.

 

He will have a head start with the squad as, traditionally, the majority of players who make up the national team are from Angola’s – and Africa’s – best club team Club Desportivo Primeiro de Agosto, who he has coached since January 2017, and already had success with, winning the 2017 CAHB Africa Clubs Championship for Winners’ Cup Winners and the African Babacar Fall Super Cup – the annual competition between the winners of the African Champions League and Cup Winners’ Cup – April in Agadir, Morocco.

 

“In order to get to the level of European teams it takes time,” he said at the media conference. “Angola need to be patient, but the road to 2020 looks very exciting – they did very well in Rio and I hope I can help continue the exciting work and develop the team up to Tokyo.”

 

Soubak also acknowledged the support from previous women’s national coach Vilvaldo Eduardo, now coach of the Atlético Petróleos de Luanda women’s club side and Technical Director for the Angolan Handball Federation, as he seeks to understand Angolan handball.

 

"My friendship with Vilvaldo comes from back in 2009,” said Soubak at the conference. “With his knowledge in women's handball we will try to form a strong team to compete against any opponent, towards the achievement of our goals.”

 

Soubak, who coached the Danish junior national team and FCK Handball in his early days, has also urged his players to work as hard as possible ahead of the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championship in Germany for which Angola have already qualified after winning the African championships for the 12th time late last year on home soil.

 

But he will be missing the experienced Natalia Bernardo, Wuta Dombaxe, Luisa Kiala and Cristina Branco and, with this, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycle in full swing, he has named six new players in his first squad as they look to prepare and build for the future.

 

From 5-18 June, the 19-women squad will participate in a training camp in Portugal, working on tactics in Gaia, before playing current IHF Women’s World Champions Norway twice, on June 10 and 12 in the Algarve. In August, two tournaments are scheduled to take place in the Japanese cities of Fukuoka and Kumamoto with Angola set to participate in up to six matches in the host nation of the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championships.

 

Brazilian connection

Soubak is fluent in Portuguese – spoken in both Brazil and Angola – and freely admits he “fell in love with” Brazil after visiting the country in 1993, following a Brazilian team visit to Denmark. In 1995, he went to work in Brazil for the first time, briefly coaching Osasco before returning in 2005 to coach Esporte Clube Pinheiros, where he won state and national league titles.

 

 

From 2009-2016 Soubak, who is married to a Brazilian, coached the Brazilian women’s national team to glory, winning the 2011 Pan-American Women’s Championship, 2013 IHF Women’s World Championship in Serbia, and guiding them to sixth position at the London 2012 Olympic Games and fifth at Rio 2016 before leaving in December 2016.

 

During this time Soubak also coached Austria’s famous Hypo Niederösterreich female club team, which, at its peak, included nine Brazilian national team players thanks to a deal with the Brazilian Handball Federation (CBHB) to improve their players ahead of their home Olympic Games.

 

It was also during this golden period for Brazilian women’s handball that two dominant forces – Alexandra do Nascimento and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Amorim – won the Women’s IHF World Handball Player of the Year Award (2012 and 2014 respectively).

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