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28.03.2013, 09:58
Gunnarsson: We don't know what to expect from ourselves
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Icelandic international speaks about the new coach and the squad's transition
 

Gunnarsson: We don't know what to expect from ourselves

Icelandic line player Robert Gunnarsson has been a key member of the national team for a number of years. He played an important role at the EHF EURO 2010, when Iceland won their last international medal and was nominated as player of the game in the bronze medal match against Poland.

The 32-year-old is currently playing with the star-studded Paris Saint Germain in France and will be part of the Iceland squad hoping to recreate their previous success at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark.

Gunnarsson speaks to ehf-euro.com about the new coach, the transition in the squad and the upcoming qualifiers.

ehf-euro.com: Iceland has had a change of coach not so long ago. Are there any differences between Gudmundur Gudmunsson and Aron Kristjansson?

Robert Gunnarsson: No they're quite similar, apart from their age. They've basically got the same preparation, they're both really keen on video analysis.

I'd say Aron is a little bit cooler, he doesn't get angry as quickly as Gudmundur, but that's really a small difference, which is a good thing because the group hasn't had any need to adapt, all has been done very naturally.

ehf-euro.com: We have noticed during the last championships that a lot of new players (Stefan Sigurdmansson, Thorir Olafsson, Kari Kristjansson) were gradually introduced, while we were used in past competitions to see always the same seven players on the court. is it part of Kristjansson's way of coaching or was it only down to circumstances?

Robert Gunnarsson: I'd say a bit of both. That's true that we've had a lot of injuries during the last World Championships so that forced the younger players to play maybe more than what they would have in normal conditions, but it's in everyone's interest to gradually introduce the young players.

We won't be around forever, and it's important that they learn how to play with us, and gain some experience.

ehf-euro.com: From here, it seems that Iceland's national team is slowly changing, introducing younger players, without lowering its level. How does it feel for you?

Robert Gunnarsson: You know, we've always got a big question mark before every competition, even before every international game. We're capable of the best but also the worst. We don't know what to expect from ourselves.

Part of that might be down to our younger players, apart from Aron Palmarsson, not having a key role in their clubs yet.

Or to all of us, because there are injuries every time and we don't have the entire squad most of the time.

ehf-euro.com: Next up are two EHF EURO 2014 qualification games against Slovenia. What can we expect from these two confrontations?

Robert Gunnarsson: Slovenia are a team that are increasing their game, they've struggled a bit but they're coming back great, they've had a good World Championship.

I think they're a little bit like us, some young players, very talented, that are mixed with older players that play in good teams such as Kavticnik (Montpellier) and Bilbija (Minden).

These two games are going to be decisive for the first place in the group, so they're important to us. I think they will be 50-50 games.

ehf-euro.com: How do you explain why Iceland have always had such a great potential but until now failed to win a title?

Robert Gunnarsson: Well, we're not like France, or Spain, or Croatia, who have got two sets of players that they can change without changing the global performance.

We're mostly based on 9 or 10 players with lots of young players backing up. That's why we get better results in the Olympics, because you play every two days so we can rest in between.

In the World Championship or EUROs, we play every day and so we end up a bit lacking physically. In the long run, these are very tiring competitions, and we just don't have a big enough bench to compete with other nations.

Iceland squad for the EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers against Slovenia on 4 and 7 April:

Goalkeepers:
Aron Rafn Eðvarðsson, Haukar
Björgvin Páll Gústavsson, Magdeburg

Court players:
Alexander Petersson, Rhein-Necker Löwen
Aron Pálmarsson, THW Kiel
Atli Ævar Ingólfsson, Sonderjyske
Ásgeir Örn Hallgrímsson, Paris Handball
Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, THW Kiel
Ingimundur Ingimundarson, ÍR
Jón Þorbjörn Jóhannsson, Haukar
Kári Kristján Kristjánsson, HSG Wetzlar
Ólafur Gústafsson, Flensburg
Ólafur Bjarki Ragnarsson, Emsdetten
Róbert Gunnarsson, Paris Handball
Rúnar Kárason, TV Grosswallstadt
Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson, GOG
Stefán Rafn Sigurmannsson, Rhein-Neckar Löwen
Sverre Andreas Jakobsson, TV Grosswallstadt
Þórir Ólafsson, KS Vive Targi Kielce

Reserves:
Daníel Freyr Andrésson, FH
Bjarki Már Elísson, HK
Róbert Aron Hostert, Fram
Ragnar Jóhannsson, FH


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
 
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