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12.01.2017, 10:50
EHF EURO 2020 Qualification is the first step to more for Faroe Islands
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THE ROAD TO 2020: Kári Nielsen, head coach of the Faroe Islands national Team, believes in his new young squad one day ahead out of its first EHF EURO 2020 qualifiers
 

EHF EURO 2020 Qualification is the first step to more for Faroe Islands

Kári Nielsen, head coach of the Faroe Islands men's national team, is full of optimism ahead of his team's first qualification matches in January en route the EHF EURO 2020 in Austria, Norway and Sweden.

“We have a very young team, but also a very promising team,” says Nielsen. In Qualification Phase 1, the Faroe Islands meet Greece and Cyprus in Group A between 13 and 15 January. The winner of this tournament gains a spot in the main qualification phase starting in October 2018.

With a population of around 50,000, there is naturally only a limited amount of players available, but Nielsen is very satisfied with those who have picked up handball.

“Handball is by far the second largest sport on the Faroe Islands and clearly the largest in winter time, so the number of players from which we can recruit our team is not that small after all,” says the coach.

Players with a lot of potential

One of the greatest achievements in the history of Faroe Islands handball was the second place at the Challenge Trophy in Serbia in 2012 at which the team only narrowly lost the final against Moldova, 30:28.

One of the Faroe's key players back then was right wing Johan Hansen, who also played for Denmark at a later stage and who currently plays for Bjerringbro-Silkeborg team in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

“We don't have a Johan Hansen these days. He is really good,” says Nielsen. “However, we do have several players at 19 and 20 years of age with a lot of potential. We also benefit from several of our players playing in the second Danish league where they have more possibilities to develop than in our domestic league."

It was only last week that the nation's men's under 21 team sprung a huge surprise and qualified for the Men's U21 World Championship 2017 this coming summer in Algeria.

“Our current team is definitely a team for the future, and right now I feel that we are founding a promising future for national team handball on the Faroe Islands.

“Therefore, we don't only want to reach the next stage of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification. We also want to start a positive development for our national team,” he adds.

Home advantage Faroe Islands' biggest asset

And the development as well as the route to the EHF EURO 2020 starts on Friday when Faroe Islands first meet Cyprus and then Greece in the Qualification Phase 1 tournament on home court.

“I think Greece as well as Cyprus play on a level which matches our own rather well. I think we have a good chance to offer both teams a good fight resistance and with a bit of luck we will also make it to the next stage of the qualification,” says Nielsen.

“In that respect, the fact that we are going to play the qualification group at home means a lot. We have a great home ground here. That may play the decisive part,” hopes Nielsen.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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