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14.01.2013, 11:23
Fine start, fine finish for Norway
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Scandinavian nation uses test matches to prepare for EHF EURO 2014 qualification
 

Fine start, fine finish for Norway

Just like other European teams that have not qualified for the 2013 World Championship in Spain, Norway have been using the opportunity to prepare for their upcoming matches in the qualification for EHF EURO 2014 in which they are on top of Group 3 with the maximum of four points from two matches so far.

Norway started the new year in the best possible way by a 38:35 away-win on 7 January against EHF EURO 2012 bronze medallists, Croatia, whom many people consider to be among the favourites to win the World Championship.

The performance was even more remarkable, as Norway were missing goalkeeper Ole Erevik, left back Kristian Kjelling and left wing Håvard Tvedten due to illness and injury.

The Norwegian fast breaks worked particularly well in the Skolska Sportska Dvorana in the Croatian city of Umag, where left back Espen Lie Hansen was Norway's top scorer with 10 goals, the same number which right winger Ivan Cupic scored for Croatia.

Four days later though Norway were not able to repeat this fine performance.

Still without Erevik, Kjelling and Tvedten, they opened the January Cup in Sweden and Norway with a 34:32 defeat to Austria who were leading 17:16 at half-time in the Swedish city Uppsala.

Right winger Kristian Bjørnsen celebrated his 24th birthday by being his team's top scorer with eight goals.

The second day of the tournament did not turn out any better for Norway as the match against the Czech Republic in Västerås was lost 34:23 after a 19:12 lead for the Czechs at half-time.

Right back Kent Robin Tønnesen was his team's best player on the day and also the best scorer with six goals.

On Sunday (13 January) Norway then had the home advantage when the tournament moved to Langhus near Oslo. Here, the Norwegians got their second test win, defeating Sweden 29:23.

Norway soon were ahead by three goals and at half-time they led 17:12. In the second half the 1,859 spectators saw the the home team increase the gap to 24:17 and 26:18 before finally winning by six goals.

Line player Bjarte Myrhol was Norway's top scorer with seven goals.

However, the win did not save Norway from finishing last in the tournament behind Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic.

"It was a good match and a fine way to end this get-together. Some judgements in the attack could probably have been better, but it was nice to see so many players contributing," Norway's Swedish-born national coach Robert Hedin told Norwegian TV station TV2 Sport after the match.

Norway's next challenges will be the top games against France in Group 3 of the EHF EURO 2014 qualification. Norway play at home on April 3 and away in Nancy on April.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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