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20.04.2015, 16:00
Petersson: Iceland don't need a boss
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INTERVIEW: Iceland's right back Alexander Petersson explains the team's core strengths ahead of the upcoming EHF EURO 2016 Qualification clashes against Serbia
 

Petersson: Iceland don't need a boss

He is the only player in Iceland’s men’s national team who is not born in Iceland: 34 years ago Alexander Petterson was born in Riga, Latvia.

But when he realised that his chances to play handball on the highest level are quite limited with Latvia and as he had played for Icelandic side Grotta already for four years, he changed citizenship in 2004.

Since then the left-handed right back is an integral part of the national team and was among those who became Olympic silver medallists in 2008 and EHF EURO bronze medallists in 2010.

But in the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Iceland’s start was poor and included a 24:25-loss to Montenegro despite seven goals scored by Petterson.

It was the second defeat Iceland suffered at the hands of a team coming from the Balkan region within the past 10 months.

In the World Championship Play-offs last year eventually Bosnia-Herzegovina had the upper hand, and Iceland only made it to the final tournament courtesy of a wild card granted by the International Handball Federation.

And now, in Rounds 3 and 4 of the qualification, the next team from former Yugoslavia, Serbia, challenges Iceland on 29 April and 3 May.

ehf-euro.com: What was the reason for the defeat in Montenegro?

Alexander Petterson: We really did not expect to lose there, we had underestimated our opponents. They are a small country, we arrived as favourites – and then we lost.

ehf-euro.com: But Iceland should have been warned by Montenegro’s previous results, as they had eliminated Sweden and Germany in two qualifications?

Alexander Petterson: This is absolutely right, but when you have it in your mind that you are the favourites, it is hard to get rid of it. We knew their results, but we had not faced them before.

ehf-euro.com: This was Iceland’s second unexpected defeat against a team from former Yugoslavia after Bosnia-Herzegovina beat you in the World Championship Play-offs. Is there any curse on Icelandic matches, especially taking into consideration that you face Serbia twice in the upcoming EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers?

Alexander Petterson: It looks like it, but there is no curse for us. I believe it is easier for us to face Serbia .They are a bigger name, this makes things easier for us.

ehf-euro.com: You have only two points on your account ahead of these matches in Group 4. Is the pressure already mounting?

Alexander Petterson: When I’m in Germany, I do not feel any pressure, maybe it changes, when I’m back in Iceland. But in the end, we simply need to win. If we win one match it is IK, if we beat Serbia twice it’s perfect.

Usually we should be in the favourite’s role in the first leg on home court, but maybe we do it the Icelandic way: Losing at home and winning away – what happened several times before. Of course, we would be under huge pressure if we lost both matches. Then the ticket to Poland is nearly out of reach.

ehf-euro.com: How will your team prepare for those crucial encounters?

Alexander Petterson: We will meet on 27 April, have two training sessions and no test match. We are well-rehearsed, as we have been playing together for nearly a decade that we don’t need six, seven training sessions to get on track. For us, it is all about the attitude. If it’s correct, we will win.

ehf-euro.com: Besides Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson or Björgvin Gustafsson you are one of the most experienced players in your squad. Are you predestined to be the boss?

Alexander Petterson: We have no boss and we need no boss. All players are equal, all players have their role, there is no leader.

ehf-euro.com: The Icelandic legend Olafur Stefansson just enjoyed his comeback at KIF Kolding Kobenhavn. Will we also see him in the national team again?

Alexander Petterson (laughs): No, this comeback with 41 years was a short one, just to help the club for two matches and it is over now.

ehf-euro.com: Do you expect an even more motivated Serbian team, as Dejan Peric is now officially their new coach?

Alexander Petterson: It is always critical for an opponent to face a team with a new coach. The players are motivated, all want to benefit from the new situation to present themselves. But I don’t believe that the pressure for us is rising due to this fact.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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