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06.08.2014, 16:17
Denmark face unfamiliar situation in Poland
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INTERVIEW: Usually Denmark are among the favourites when it comes to youth championships. However, this is not the case ahead of the Men’s 18 EHF EURO as coach Morten Henriksen admits.
 

Denmark face unfamiliar situation in Poland

When a European Championship or a World Championship for a youth handball generation is approaching, Denmark are usually named among the favourites, and Danish teams have often lived up to that status.

However - the Men’s 18 EHF European Championship in Poland (for players born 1996 or younger) later this month marks an exception to that rule - at least if you ask the man in charge of the team.

"This generation is probably a bit atypical compared to what you may be used to from Danish youth teams," says head coach Morten Henriksen.

"We do have a lot of interesting players born in 1997, though, while the generation 1996 may be a little weaker.

"However, you cannot expect every generation to be as great as the players born in 1994 and 1995 who have just formed our Men’s 20 team.

He adds: "We are in a very tough group (with Spain, Russia and FYR Macedonia) and being among the best two teams in that group is our first aim. After that we will have to take it from there."

Development more important than winning titles

"The most important thing right now is to give all those young talent some championship experience, and in that aspect does this final round come in very useful.

"When you are dealing with players at this age, developing their talent is somewhat more important than becoming European champions. Developing future senior national team players is our main priority.

"But do not get me wrong. We definitely play to win, and we teach the players that it is about winning each time they enter the court," emphasizes Henriksen who is a bit reluctant to name any possible future senior internationals from his current squad.

"It is still a bit too early for that. So far, our only competitive games with this team have been the three qualification matches for this European Championship.

"I would like to see the players in this final round, and see how they cope with pressure there, before I make any predictions.

"However, there is no doubt that we have many interesting players with a lot a potential, especially among the players born in 1997, as I said before."

Weeks of multi-tasking

For Henriksen the time before and during the championship is particularly busy.

Apart from being in charge of Denmark’s Men’s 18 team, he is also the head coach of Danish league club SonderjyskE who are in for their European debut this season.

In Round 2 of the EHF Cup they are facing Swedish side Eskilstuna in the second and third week of October.

At the same time as the Men´s 18 European Championship in Poland is being played, SonderjyskE will be going through the final preparations for the Danish league which starts at the end of August.

How does Morten Henriksen manage all these tasks?

"Obviously, the Men's 18 championship is not taking place at the best possible time, when you also have to domestic league to think about. However, it is all about planning.

"This week I am with SønderjyskE in a training camp in Hungary, and we come home from that, I start with the Men’s 18 national team again Monday.

"Then I have highly capable assistant coach in SønderjyskE who can carry on with the preparations for the season.

"Furthermore, I have some good people to assist me with video clips about our coming opponents, at the Men´s 18 national team as well as in SønderjyskE.

"That way we make it all work," says Henriksen.

Tournament information

The Men’s 28 EHF EURO takes place in the Polish cities of Gdynia and Gdansk from 14 to 24 August 2014. For more information visit the official website and the event's Facebook page.

During the tournament eurohandball.com and the EHF EURO Facebook page will also feature regular reports, features and photo galleries.

Austria hosted the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012. Back then Germany won, Sweden came second and Denmark placed third.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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