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23.09.2014, 09:40
Sigurdsson: "My wife agreed, so I said yes"
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: eurohandball.com talked to Germany's new head coach Dagur Sigurdsson about his first week in the job, the challenges to be a national team and Bundesliga coach at the same time and his vision for German handball in the future
 

Sigurdsson: My wife agreed, so I said yes

Last weekend a new era German men’s handball has begun. The two test matches against Switzerland (32:26 and 28:28) were the first with head coach Dagur Sigurdsson on the bench.

The 41-year-old Icelandic took on the job after Germany had lost to Poland in the play-offs to the World Championship 2015. The team was later granted a wild card by the International Handball Federation and hence will participate at the final tournament in Qatar.

His mission is to bring back the German national team on the path of success, with gold at the 2020 Olympic Games the declared long-term plan of the German Handball Federation.

Sigurdsson’s contract first runs until 2017, but includes the option to be extended until 2020, which would see him on the bench at the World Championship 2019, hosted by Germany and Denmark, as well as at the 2020 Olympic Games. For the 2014/15 season Sigurdsson also remains the coach Füchse Berlin, which he has been coaching since 2009.

In this exclusive interview of the week with www.eurohandball.com Sigurdsson talks about his start as national team coach, the differences of coaching a club and a national team and his vision on the years to come.

eurohandball.com: How much tension did you feel before your first matches as German national team coach?
Dagur Sigurdsson: Before every Bundesliga match I feel a certain tension, and it was the same before our tests against Switzerland. I wasn’t nervous, but curious to see how things will work.

eurohandball.com: How do you summarise the matches against Switzerland?
Dagur Sigurdsson: The first half of the first match (32:26) as really good, our new 5:1 defence worked close to perfection. In contrast, the first half of the second match was a pure disappointment for me, a clear step backwards. We moved too little.

The second half was better, but you have to win such matches. I did not know exactly where we are at the moment, but those matches showed me what we have to work on.

eurohandball.com: What did you change?
Dagur Sigurdsson: We mostly worked on the defence in the five training sessions prior to those test matches. I wanted to test some alternatives for the start of our EHF EURO 2016 Qualification matches at the end of October. We did not work that much on the attack, this is a task for the future.

eurohandball.com: How was the team’s welcome for the new coach?
Dagur Sigurdsson: Very easy for me. The atmosphere is perfect everybody gave everything he had in the training sessions and - except the first half of the second match - also on court. It was a perfect week in terms of getting to know the players.

eurohandball.com: Was it different to switch from the 'Füchse mode' to 'national team mode'?
Dagur Sigurdsson: No! When I agreed on this job, I knew what to expect as I had the experience from coaching Füchse and the Austrian national team at the same time (in 2009/10).

During the entire first week as a national team coach I was in constant touch with my club, and I know that I can rely on those who work with the team in that time. I have no problems in focusing on two different tasks, as I have a great support in both jobs.

eurohandball.com: So there’s no pressure on you?
Dagur Sigurdsson: Prior to every match you feel some pressure. No matter if it’s Füchse or the national team, I want to win every match, hence a certain pressure is needed to stay focused.

eurohandball.com: Will it be hard to manage this amount of work?
Dagur Sigurdsson: My wife agreed that I will be able to manage both jobs - then it was obvious for me to say yes. It is only for this season, so things are clearly set out, as from July 2015 I only will be responsible for the national team.

eurohandball.com: When you analyse Bundesliga matches for the Füchse, do you watch those matches with a different point of view, analysing the national team players at the same time?
Dagur Sigurdsson: When I prepare for a Füchse match, there’s only one focus: Berlin. In the post-match analysis I will also have an eye on the national team players. It’s easy for me, as right after the match I have everything on my laptop, so I can select.

eurohandball.com: The second match of the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification will lead you to Vienna where you’ll face Austria which you coached from 2008 to 2010. Is this a special match for you?
Dagur Sigurdsson: It will be a very special return for me. I will meet a lot of friends - and the Austrian Icelandic born coach Patrekur Johannesson is one of my best mates. But of course it is the match that counts and we will focus to win it.

eurohandball.com:  Your first major event as German national team coach will be the World Championship in Qatar. What are your objectives in Doha?
Dagur Sigurdsson: This event currently is so far away for me. Now I have started against Switzerland, next up we have the EURO qualification matches and then we can discuss our goals for Qatar; until then all players and also me as the coach have to do our homework. I will analyse the matches against Switzerland and will draw my conclusions what we need to improve for the EHF EURO qualifiers against Finland and Austria. And the rest will be taken step by step.

eurohandball.com: But you were signed by the German Handball Federation with a relatively clear vision for the future.
Dagur Sigurdsson: This is true. The federation has a long-term vision which focuses on the World Championship 2019 and the 2020 Olympic Games, so it will be my task to have an eye on those long-term goals. But as I said: Even a long way needs to be walked by small steps.

eurohandball.com: How important in this long-term view was the Men’s 20 EHF EURO title for Germany this summer?
Dagur Sigurdsson: It is good to know that young players are moving up the ranks. Some of them like Paul Drux or Fabian Wiede have already played in the senior national team, more will follow. They first have to find their role in their clubs and then they’ll get their chance in the national team. Of course, I have a permanent close look on their development.

eurohandball.com: So the future looks bright for German men’s handball after some disappointments?
Dagur Sigurdsson: I definitely have no worries. We have a huge pool of talents and a lot of good approaches, but we have to work on everything.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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