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14.01.2013, 10:27
Swedes focused on EHF EURO qualification
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Mixed results for Sweden as they prepare for EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers
 

Swedes focused on EHF EURO qualification

Sweden have been busy making the most of the fact that they have not qualified for the 2013 World Championship, currently in progress in Spain.

Away from the spotlight of the World Championship, the Olympic silver medallists have played no less than six test matches with an eye on their next assignments in the EHF EURO 2014 qualification.

Actually, the Swedes have been active since the very start of 2013, opening the year on 3 January with a home game against Germany in Växjö, with a 26:20 defeat to the Germans, who are currently at the World Championship.

Only two days later, the Swedes took on the Germans again, this time in Hamburg, where they drew 28:28.

After a three day rest, the Swedish squad took on another World Championship team, Iceland, and defeated them 31:29 after taking a 14:15 behind at the end of the first half.

After this, national coaches Steffen Olsson and Ola Lindgren took their squad to the January Cup, a four team test tournament against Norway, Austria, and Czech Republic, where the first two matches were played in domestic halls in Sweden, and the last match in Oslo.

The first match was against the Czech Republic in Uppsala, and after taking a 17:10 lead at half time, the 1,604 spectators saw Sweden secure a six goal win, with Mikael Appelgren outstanding in goal for the Swedes in their 32:26 win.

Austria was the next challenge for Sweden, who began the match in Västerås by racing out to a 4:0 lead, which was extended to 7:1.

However, the Austrians managed to reduce the deficit to 15:12 at half time, and even though Sweden increased the gap to 20:14 in the second half, Austria were able to create a certain doubt about the outcome, as they got within two goals of Sweden around the middle of the second half.

In the end, however, Sweden ran out 31:28 winners, a result which also meant that the tournament was theirs, regardless of the result in their last match against Norway.

The last match day of the tournament, which was a joint arrangement between the Swedish and the Norwegian federations, took place in Langhus just outside Oslo, where 1,859 spectators saw the Norwegians make use of the home advantage to win 29:23, after leading 17:12 at half time.

In the second half, Norway had an eight goal advantage at one stage, before Sweden managed to make the score more respectable in the end.

When asked about the squad’s overall performance throughout the six test matches, Ola Lindgren was satisfied:

“If we sum it all up, the team´s performances have been acceptable, and the players have gained valuable experience for the future,” explained Lindgren after the final match.

Sweden´s next task will be the EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers against Poland in Group 5. Both teams have a maximum four points from the opening two games in the group and Sweden have the home advantage on April 4 before visiting Poland three days where they could potentially secure qualification for next year’s tournament in Denmark.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
 
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