Everything open in all-Swedish clash
With only two goals separating the teams, everything is still open in the Swedish duel between IFK Kristianstad and Eskilstuna Guif in the second qualifying round of the EHF Cup. Kristianstad is leading 24:22 before the second leg in Eskilstuna on the coming Saturday (16:00 hrs local time), but for a long time it did not seem to be that close, when the two teams met in the first match on Saturday.
Eskilstuna stunned the home team and more than 3,000 spectators in the Kristianstad Arena by taking a 9:2 lead early in the match, and the visitors managed to hold on to that seven goal lead until half time, when they were up 15:8. Through an impressive comeback in the second half, though, Kristianstad managed to turn the game around and to win by two goals.
eurohandball.com has talked to the head coaches of the two rivals about the peculiar course of the first match and the perspectives for the return match.
Lindgren: Goal difference does not mean much
In IFK Kristianstad former Swedish international Ola Lindgren is head coach along with being in charge of the Swedish national coach together with Staffan Olsson.
eurohandball.com: How could things turn out so wrong for your team in the first half of the first match?
Ola Lindgren: We did not play a particularly good first half. We made a lot of technical mistakes which gave Guif a lot of fast breaks, and they are very good on counter-attacks. Furthermore, our goalkeepers did not do particularly well, and as Guif played really well, it was no wonder that the first half turned out the way it did.
eurohandball.com: So how do you explain your impressive comeback in the second half?
Ola Lindgren: We managed to minimise the number of technical mistakes, and combined with an improving goalkeeper performance and increasing support from the crowd, we managed to turn things around. Furthermore, we managed to tighten our defence, which is emphasised by the fact that we only let in seven goals in the second half.
eurohandball.com: Now you can go to Eskilstuna with a lead, but only at two goals, so how do you see your chances to proceed to Round 3?
Ola Lindgren: I do not think that the goal difference means that much in this case, where two Swedish teams are meeting. It would be different against a foreign opponent. I believe that the second match will also be very tight, as the two teams know each other extremely well, and there is really no big difference in strength.
eurohandball.com: What are your ambitions in the competition? Do you aim for the Group Phase – or maybe even more?
Ola Lindgren: We do not think that far ahead. Obviously any team would want to get as far as possible, but right now we do not think any further than the Saturday game.
Andrésson: Defence and goalkeepers will decide
In Eskilstuna Guif Kristian Andrésson is in charge and he hopes two comebacks from injuries will help his team to qualify.
eurohandball.com: You are only two goals down before the second leg, but your situation could have been much better, if you had maintained your seven goal lead from the first half of the first match. What went wrong for your team, as the match progressed?
Kristian Andrésson: We had four players on the injury list before the match, and even though a couple of them were able to play 20 to 40 minutes, we were short on resources. We played a fine first half, in our defence as well as in the attack. In the second half, though, we were punished for being too passive and too defensive, but we also got tired. However, losing the second half 16:7 is not acceptable.
eurohandball.com: How do you see your chances for the average win?
Kristian Andrésson: I think our chances are very good. We will get two of our injured players back at full strength, and with the necessary support from our home crowd I believe that we can go on to the next round.
eurohandball.com: What will be decisive?
Kristian Andrésson: It will be decisive, if our defence and our goalkeepers are at their best. Our attacking play will improve more or less automatically by getting our two injured players back.
eurohandball.com: What does it mean to your club to get far in the EHF Cup?
Kristian Andrésson: We have a lot of young players in our team, and playing those European matches means a lot to their development. Of course, we do not get much out of meeting another Swedish team such as Kristianstad, but that is just a further reason, why were are eager to go on in the tournament. Last year we met Rhein-Neckar Löwen, and it is matches like that we want to play. Therefore it will mean a lot to us to go on in the EHF Cup, and I believe we will.
Photo: Bildbyrån, Ján Súkup, Gunnar Johansson
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br