Iceland eye Dutch ticket
Iceland were one of the surprise teams at the 2011 World Championships last winter. But after dropping two points at home to the Ukraine, they cannot afford to drop any more points against Switzerland in this week‘s EHF EURO 2012 double-header.
The Icelandic team gathered at the beginning of the week to prepare for the crucial away game in Switzerland, and even though young starlet Thorgerdur Anna Atladottir is missing through injury, coach Ágúst Jóhannsson is pleased with the state of his team. But he concedes to ehf-euro.com that Iceland must get maximum points from now on.
ehf-euro.com: Do you believe you cannot afford to drop any points for the remainder of your EHF EURO 2012 qualification campaign?
Ágúst Jóhannsson: “That‘s clear. But first we have to concentrate on the matches against Switzerland. We are supposed to be the stronger team, but just as we can be dangerous for any team, any team can be dangerous for us. I expect a very tough match, especially in Switzerland, but it‘s clear that we need four points from these two matches."
ehf-euro.com: Do you think you‘ll get those points?
Ágúst Jóhannsson: “Yes, I think so. Training has been really good and I‘m very pleased with the condition of the team. If we play with discipline and patience we will beat Switzerland, but we have to play to our strengths. The Swiss team is very dangerous. They play very fast handball and are strong on the fast break, so discipline is very important against them."
The Icelandic team played for the first time in the final round of a championship when they qualified for EHF EURO 2010 in Denmark and Norway, and then followed that up with the 2011 World Championships in Brazil. Suddenly, the girls are sharing the limelight with the men‘s team which has long been Iceland's favourite.
Iceland captain, Hrafnhildur Skúladóttir, is adamant that Iceland will conquer Switzerland, and she wants more.
“We know that if we play with discipline and strong defence, we will beat Switzerland. And if we do that, we‘ll go all the way, beating the Ukraine away and Spain at home.
“After the World Cup, the hunger in the team is enormous and the squad is fantastic with a mix of old, experienced players like myself and young, eager players. That is very good and I am sure that we‘ll qualify for Holland.“
Find more information on the Women's EHF EURO 2012 Qualification HERE.
View more detailed information on the event on the Official EHF EURO 2012 Website.
TEXT: Adolf Ingi Erlingsson