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04.03.2016, 15:47
Iceland rely on experience when it is do or die
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PREVIEW: Iceland face Switzerland in EHF EURO 2016 Qualification and with key player Rut Jonsdottir injured, it was time to call up the experienced to keep the team’s qualification hopes alive
 

Iceland rely on experience when it is do or die

Iceland were hit with a big blow only a few days before head coach Agust Johannsson announced the squad for the upcoming double-header against Switzerland in the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification on 10 and 13 March.

Last week it was announced that Rut Jonsdottir’s season is over, both with her Danish side Randers and the national team, after she had to undergo surgery on her right shoulder.

Jonsdottir has been a key player in the right back position with the national team and it is also confirmed that she will miss the matches against France and Germany in June as well.

Iceland are without a point after the first two rounds in Group 7, but the hope is there that the time is ripe to turn things around – even without Jonsdottir. 

With her out of the picture, Johannsson has called up three experienced players that were left out of the squad in the first two rounds.

Must noticeable is the call up for the 38-year-old Kristin Gudmundsdottir, who has shown this season that she got plenty left in her tank.

Only handful of players have scored more goals than Gudmundsdottir in the league this season. She almost quit two years ago, but has expressed that playing handball keeps her young.

She has won six titles with Valur in the last six years, and was voted the best player of the league at the end of last season.

Her absence in the first two rounds was criticised and Johannsson is not going to make that mistake again.

Alongside Gudmundsdottir, two other experienced players have been nominated as well. Unnur Omarsdottir, a quick winger who came back home last summer after a year of playing in Norway, regains her spot.

And so does Solveig Lara Kjærnested, who last weekend won the domestic cup in Iceland with Stjarnan.

Close matches ahead

The two teams should know each other quite well, after having played three friendly matches against each other in March last year.

Iceland won two of those games, but it was clear that the quality of the two squads is comparably so the upcoming two games are expected to be exciting. 

Both teams see this as a great opportunity to get back on track in Group 7.

Iceland only scored 34 goals in the first two matches combined, but the team is still on top of Switzerland on goal difference.

So with Jonsdottir out of the picture, Iceland is not looking to experiment with some less experienced players. That is clear when looking at the squad. It’s do or die.

The Icelandic team will travel to Switzerland four days ahead the match on 10 March, before turning back home and face them again in Hafnarfjordur three days later.

Icelandic squad for the Women’s EHF EURO Qualification matches against Switzerland:

Goalkeepers: Florentina Stanciu (Stjarnan), Guðrún Ósk Maríasdóttir (Fram).
Court players: Anna Úrsúla Guðmundsdóttir (Grótta), Arna Sif Pálsdóttir (Nice), Hildigunnur Einarsdóttir (Koblenz), Hildur Þorgeirsdóttir (Fram), Hrafnhildur Hanna Þrastardóttir (Selfoss), Karen Knútsdóttir (Nice), Kristín Guðmundsdóttir (Valur), Ramune Pekarskyte (Haukar), Sólveig Lára Kjærnested (Stjarnan), Steinunn Hansdóttir (Selfoss), Sunna Jónsdóttir (Skrim), Thea Imani Sturludóttir (Fylkir), Unnur Ómarsdóttir (Grótta), Þórey Anna Ásgeirsdóttir (Grótta)


TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ts
 
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