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16.10.2013, 10:44
Johannsson enforces generation shift in Iceland
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MATCH PREVIEW: The Icelandic nominates a bunch of young and talented players and hopes for positive results in his team's Women's EHF EURO Qualification matches against Finland and Slovakia
 

Johannsson enforces generation shift in Iceland

Iceland will begin their qualifying campaign for the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 with a home match against Finland on 23 October, and the Nordic team is determined to reach the final tournament this time after it missed the chance to qualify for World Championship 2013 in Serbia, losing to Czech Republic in the play-offs in June.

Iceland qualified for an EHF EURO for the first time in 2010 and subsequently made it to two major events the following years, the World Championship 2011 and the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia.

However, after failing to qualify for the World Championship 2013 head coach Agust Johannsson made some significant changes to his squad for the matches against Finland and Slovakia (27 October), leaving behind many of the major players who had a starring role in lifting women’s handball to new heights in Iceland.

Former captains Rakel Dögg Bragadottir and Hrafnhildur Skuladottir were not selected, both are still playing for their respective teams in Iceland’s topflight Olisdeild.

Left wing Dagny Skuladottir, Hrafnhildur’s younger sister, and Hanna G. Stefansdottir are also out.

"Overall there are six changes compared to our last game," said Johannsson to eurohandball.com.

"Some are due to injuries but I also decided to select some young players who have made a strong claim for a place in our squad in the past.

"I feel this squad is the best selection of players available at this time."

Bragadottir, who scored 15 of Iceland’s 38 goals in the two losses against the Czech Republic in June’s World Championship Play-offs, has been injured in recent months, Johannsson said.

He didn’t rule out bringing her or other players back in the future.

Three of the six players (Haraldsdottir, Ragnarsdottir, Einarsdottir, Thorgeirsdottir, Larudottir and Omarsdottir) coming in to Iceland’s squad play in strong leagues in Europe, whilst the other half of the bunch still ply their trade at home in Iceland.

Also in Iceland’s group is women’s handball powerhouse France and Johannsson feels they are favourites for the top spot.

"Our goal is to progress from the group, but Slovakia have a very strong team as well. I rate Slovakia most likely to get the second qualification spot in the group, after France. However, one must not disregard Finland."

Asked if he regards the away match against Slovakia a key fixture for Iceland, Johannsson said he would first think about the match against Finland.

"Our aim is to play well against Finland. Afterwards we will focus on Slovakia. But it goes without saying that a positive result in Slovakia will be pivotal in reaching our goals.

"For that to happen we will need to have an exceptional match."

For more information, news, photos and videos also go to www.ehf-euro.com and like the our EHF EURO Facebook page.

Iceland’s squad for the EHF EURO 2014 Qualification matches against Finland and Slovakia

Goalkeepers: Florentina Stanciu (Stjarnan), Gudny Jenny Asmundsdottir (Valur)

Other players: Arna Sif Palsdottir, (SK Aarhus (DEN)), Asta Birna Gunnarsdottir (Fram), Birna Berg Haraldsdottir (Sävehof (SWE)), Esther Ragnarsdottir (Stjarnan), Hildigunnur Einarsdottir (Tertnes (NOR)), Hildur Thorgeirsdottir (Koblenz (GER)), Karen Knutsdottir (Sonderjyske (DEN)), Karolína Larudottir (Valur), Ramune Pekarskyte (Sonderjyske (DEN)), Rut Jonsdottir (Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN)), Steinunn Björnsdottir (Fram), Stella Sigurdardottir (Sonderjyske (DEN)), Thorey Rosa Stefansdottir (Vag Vipers (NOR)), Unnur Omarsdottir (Grotta)


TEXT: Eirikur Stefan Asgeirsson / ts
 
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