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30.10.2012, 17:24
Finland head coach cautiously optimistic
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Interview with Mikael Källman ahead of the EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers
 

Finland head coach Mikael Källman cautiously optimistic

The Finnish national handball team is heading for the first group phase of the EHF EURO 2016 qualification with cautious optimism.

The explicit goal for Finland is to win Group 1 with Luxembourg and Cyprus and proceed to the play-off phase to be played in the early summer 2014, with a position in the second phase of qualification at stake.

The draw is sometimes fickle, as shown here with Finland facing the same countries in the EURO 2014 in June, beating Cyprus, but somewhat surprisingly losing to Luxembourg in the pre-qualification.

Despite this, Finland’s head coach Mikael Källman is resolute in saying Finland seeks nothing but victories this time around.

“For once, we are a slight favorite, when heading into the qualifier round. Luxembourg gave us a fiery message in June giving us no reason to declare any victories in advance. One false move in a four-match series can be fatal, so we must not lose our focus and fighting spirit for one moment” says Källman.

Eurohandball.com: The qualifier round is now played as a home and away series, not as a weekend tournament. What do you think of this solution?
Mikael Källman: I think it is a very good solution. This qualification system gives smaller handball countries like Finland possibilities to continually play matches and especially home games. This reform is very welcome from the point of view of the expansion and the visibility of the sport.

Eurohandball.com: A large part of the national team players play abroad. How do you manage the preparations for this qualifying round?
Mikael Källman: I usually get all the players I want for my preparations, but the preparation time is sometimes only two days before the games. This is by no means the best possible starting point, but then also all the other countries having players abroad experience the same problem. It is a good thing though that there is usually also a break in the series abroad during these qualifier rounds. The present situation is, however, such that during the so-called international week, when all the countries have a break in their respective series, we almost certainly are playing trial games somewhere. At times, it would be good to participate in training tournaments, when our team could play against really tough opponents, as well as watch the other teams playing.

Eurohandball.com: In recent times the Finnish national handball team has rarely played in men's international games. Has this been a significant shortcoming?
Mikael Källman: In my opinion it is very important that our very young team can play international matches and now this qualification system gives us games quite often, this is a very good thing.

Eurohandball.com: As you previously mentioned, you have young players in the team, who have gained experience from European Championships while playing in the junior, under 21, and men’s Finnish national teams.  Has this been a benefit?
Mikael Källman: It is indeed of benefit. The championships are international games too, and give really good experience. Nevertheless, the following step, to the men's national team, is quite big. However, the majority of the players in other countries go down the same road.


TEXT: Johann Ruys / cor
 
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