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17.10.2014, 10:30
Gudmundsson denies pressure, warns his team not to underestimate opponents
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FEATURE : Denmark's new national coach does not think much about succeeding the successful Ulrik Wilbek while he prepares his team for the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification at the end of October
 

Gudmundsson denies pressure, warns his team not to underestimate opponents

When Gudmundur Gudmundsson took over as national coach of Denmark’s men’s team in summer this year, the 53-year-old Icelandic succeeded one of the most successful sports coaches in history, Ulrik Wilbek.

He also took over a team of whom the fans expected medals at every championship.

This arguably puts a certain pressure on any coach, but not on Gudmundsson.

"I have been coaching in the German Bundesliga for four years, where they was pressure all the time. I have also been national coach in Iceland for eight years, and there were also high expectations there, so I’m used to pressure, and frankly I do not think a lot about it," he says less than two weeks out of the start of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification.

"I simply focus on making the team perform."

Denmark’s first two challenges in Qualification Group 2 will be Lithuania at home on 30 October and Bosnia-Herzegovina away on 2 November.

Those two matches will also be Gudmundsson’s first competitive ones as Danish national coach.

Besides the expectations from the entire handball community in Denmark, Gudmundur Gudmundsson also has to deal with some problems regarding his team.

Playmaker Thomas Mogensen and line player Michael Knudsen have both bid farewell to the national team, and defence specialist Klaus Thomsen and playmaker Rasmus Lauge are out with injuries.

"Of course, it is always a big loss, when two such important key players end their national team career, and it obviously makes it even worse, when two other key players are injured," comments Gudmundsson.

"I feel particularly sorry for Klaus Thomsen who is out for the season with a torn cruciate ligament, but we simply have to focus on the players who are available, and my focus is to make the team perform as good as possible under the given circumstances."

No small handball nations

There was a certain relief and joy in Denmark when their qualification group for the EHF EURO 2016 was drawn.

"Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lithuania, how tough could that be?” was more or less the nation’s reaction.

Those feelings have changed a bit after Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina have qualified for the World Championship 2015 in January.

"This only serves to prove that more and more of the so called small handball nations are also starting to play good handball.

"That is good for handball, and it makes it even more important for us not to underestimate any opponent, but to have respect for all the teams, we meet," says Gudmundsson.

"Lithuania are good in their aggressive defence, and they also have some good attacking players, but that is obviously a match we should win.

"Bosnia-Herzegovina are extremely dangerous. I have watched many of their matches, and we should have the greatest respect for them."

The Danish squad list for the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification

Goalkeepers: Niklas Landin (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Jannick Green (SC Magdeburg)

Left wing: Anders Eggert (SG Flensburg-Handewitt), Casper U. Mortensen (SønderjyskE)

Right wing: Hans Lindberg (HSV Hamburg), Lasse Svan Hansen (SG Flensburg-Handewitt)

Back court players: Kasper Sondergaard (Skjern Handbol), Mads Christiansen (Bjerringbro-Silkeborg), Bo Spellerberg (KIF Kolding Kobenhavn), Mads Mensah Larsen (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Morten Olsen (St. Rapahel Var), Michael Damgaard (Team Tvis Holstebro), Mikkel Hansen (PSG Handball Paris), Nikolaj Markussen (Skjern Håndbold), Henrik Mollgaard (Skjern Håndbold)

Line players: Jesper Noddesbo (FC Barcelona), Rene Toft Hansen (THW Kiel), Henrik Toft Hansen (HSV Hamburg)

Nominated especially for the defence: Kasper Nielsen (Füchse Berlin)


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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