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03.01.2014, 18:50
Sweden try to compensate the missing Kim Andersson
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EHF EURO COUNTDOWN: It will take more than one player to make up for the absence of the injured star, admits national coach Staffan Olsson
 

Sweden try to compensate the missing Kim Andersson

Almost until the last moment Sweden were hoping to get their big star Kim Andersson fit from his shoulder injury in time for the EHF EURO 2014, but when Andersson underwent surgery on 27 November that small flame of hope eventually extinguished.

Now the right back position is in the hands of experienced Johan Jakobsson and young Magnus Persson.

"Of course, it is a big loss for our team. A Kim Andersson in top form would mean a lot to any team.

"Not only his shot, but the level at which he is a playing in general, would have boosted us tremendously.

"However, Johan Jakobsson has been doing very well for Aalborg this season, in the Champions League as well as in the Danish league," Staffan Olsson, one of Sweden's two national coaches, told ehf-euro.com.

Johan Jakobsson does not seem to be the least scared by the extra responsibility which is put on his shoulders.

"I do not feel any additional pressure because of that. For me, there was much more pressure in returning from injury earlier this season and trying to get back to the level, at which I used to perform, and to the level that is expected of me.

"I do not play like Kim Andersson anyway, even though we play the same position. He plays in his way, and I play in mine, and do not feel in any way that I have to copy his style," the 26-year old right back from Aalborg Handball said.

No pressure from the coaches

Jakobsson should not feel much of a pressure from the two national coaches, Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren, either.

"We cannot expect just one player to make up the absence of Kim Andersson. Several players must share that task," Olsson says.

One of those players could be Magnus Persson, the other left-handed backcourt player in Olsson's and Lindgren's squad.

The 23-year-old DROTT Halmstad player had only played three internationals before Sweden started their final preparations for the EHF EURO 2014 (Sweden play a four-nation tournament in Spain from 3 to 5 January), but that does definitely not reduce him to a 'Mr. Anybody'.

Actually, Persson is currently the top scoring player in the VELUX EHF Champions League with 46 goals in seven matches – even more impressive, considering the fact that Halmstad are ranked last in Group D with only one point. He may be the new rising star in the Swedish team.

Unlike many other national coaches, Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren nominated the 16 names of their final squad as soon as 9 December.

"We have followed that same procedure ahead of all major tournaments lately, and we have got a lot of positive feedback on this way of doing things.

It makes the players feel more safe and secure, than if we nominate 18 players and let a bunch of them fight to avoid being the two players who get the axe at the end. If we run into injuries, we can always supply the squad from our 28 players squad," Staffan Olsson explained.

Main round as first goal

At the EHF EURO 2014, Sweden will be playing in Group D, where their opponents in Brondby Hallen in Copenhagen's west will be Montenegro, Belarus and Croatia.

"Our first goal is to reach the main round. Then we will have to see how far we can make it from there.

"However, it is obvious that if you enter the main round without having any points with you from the preliminary round, it will be extremely difficult to reach a semi-final, so hopefully we can take some points with us into the main round, too," Staffan Olsson said.

Johan Jakobsson, who plays in Denmark until he joins SG Flensburg-Handewitt after this season, is also looking forward to playing more or less on home court.

"Maybe, it will more special for my Norwegian teammates in Aalborg (goalkeeper Ole Erevik and left winger Havard Tvedten) as they are going to play in Aalborg.

"However, I do have some nice memories of Brondby Hallen, as that was the venue where I won the Danish championship with Aalborg last season," Jakobsson said.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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