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01.10.2015, 16:00
No country for old men?
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BLOG: Tom looks ahead to Match of the Week, featuring two teams desperate to kickstart their VELUX EHF Champions League campaign
 

No country for old men?

There’s an old joke that someone in New York asks how to get to Carnegie Hall. The flippant New Yorker answers: “Practice”. If you asked me right now, how to beat KIF Kolding Kobenhavn, I would say: “Run them”.

There is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark, but there is certainly something wrong. On many occasions in the past, I have suggested that they needed to blood younger players. They either haven’t had the possibility or they have decided not to. With the exception of Lasse Andersson, who stormed onto the scene two years ago at Dunkerque and latterly Magnus Landin, the average age of the squad is 35.

They real issue is, that the age gap between established players and younger bench players is enormous. There seems to be no middle ground and thus Kolding are suffering at the moment. Injuries to key players aren't helping and the very young players watch on. 

They say another year older is another year wiser, but at a certain age, another year older is another niggle, another injury, an extra day to recover. Because the fact is that no matter how well you look after yourself, old father time and gravity just have a way of slowing you down. The niggles take longer to recover from, the injuries even longer and sometimes, although your brain tells you: you can do it, the body just doesn’t respond.

Looking at the two games up until now for KIF, this is my feeling. They look very light in replacements and the current format doesn’t allow for recovery time. The defeat in Kristianstad was a tough pill to swallow and one might have to accept that RNL is a coming team. The year older for them (RNL) is a year wiser and more experienced.

This KIF team has never been prolific in attack in the CL, but they could always hang their hat on their defence. They haven’t had a chance this year, as teams break quickly time after time and the Danish team look sluggish and dare I say it slow.

By contrast, Montpellier HB has looked ok. Sure they have lost two games, but they were never truly out of them until maybe the last 10-15 minutes. They have pace and style and a youthful swagger about them. Their defensive frailties are there for all to see, but let’s not forget that they have played two of the favourites to go to the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

Look, no one really believes that any team will go undefeated through the group phase. It is almost an impossibility. It’s a long and winding road this year and as the Bible says: “The race is not to the swift”. But, with the speed in the game today, in any given match, swiftness can win you the game. KIF faces an extraordinarily quick team. Word from my spies says that there are some injury concerns over Simonet and Gajic. That will be music to KIF’s ears. But in the Tunisian new boy, Toumi and the ever-improving Bonnefond, they have ample replacements.

“No Country for Old Men”. Not quite. But KIF won’t be relishing a trip down south. Both teams desperately need a win. But that defeat to the Swedes definitely piles the pressure on Kolding. I wouldn’t put it past them to pull off an extraordinary result, but they will need all their cunning and years of experience to do it.

MHB will just have to run.

Watch the Match of the Week between Montpellier HB and KIF Kolding Kobenhavn with commentary from Tom O'Brannagain on Sunday 4 October at 17:00 CET live on ehfTV.com.


TEXT: Tom O'Brannagain, ehfTV commentator
 
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