02.11.2012, 12:03
Denmark begin World Championship preparation

Denmark face Argentina in two test matches and say goodbye to legendary player Lars Christiansen


Denmark begin World Championship preparation

Without any qualification matches for the EHF EURO 2014, Denmark´s men’s national team can focus on preparing for January’s 2013 World Championship in Spain.

The first stage of preparation is two test matches at home against Argentina on 3 and 4 November, and for those matches, national coach Ulrik Wilbek has made several changes to the team that reached the quarter-finals at the London Olympics.

Some changed were forced and some out of the wish for experiments. For example, prominent names such as Bo Spellerberg, Kasper Nielsen and Thomas Mogensen are absent for various reasons.

Eurohandball.com asked Wilbek to elaborate on his thoughts and plans.

Eurohandball.com: What do you expect to gain from the two matches against Argentina?
Ulrik Wilbek: First and foremost I am looking forward to seeing some more or less new players in action. At the moment, for instance, Morten Olsen is the second highest scorer in the Bundesliga. That should guarantee some quality. Furthermore it will be interesting to see if Henrik Møllgaard can take over Kasper Nielsen´s job in the defence. Being 37 years-old it is expected that Nielsen will end his career at some point, and Møllgaard can be used at both ends of the court. I am also looking forward to seeing what Kasper Irming – who has been out for nearly two years with injuries – can do on the right back, and on the left wing I am looking forward to watch Casper Ulrich Mortensen who is a quite a different type of player than our other left wing Anders Eggert. Casper has had an inconsistent start to the season, but he has had some fine performances in between.

Eurohandball.com: You have these two matches, then three matches at the beginning of January, and two training camps in between before the World Championship. How many players do you have time to observe under these conditions?
Ulrik Wilbek: First I will have to see how much I can observe within this first week that we are going to be together. If I am still in doubt, I may have to postpone the nomination of the squad for a while.

Eurohandball.com: Where do you feel that you stand with the national team at the moment – after the slightly disappointing result at the Olympics and with the injuries?
Ulrik Wilbek: Injury is always a part of handball, and I am sure that other players can take over from the ones who are not available, and when you call our result in London slightly disappointing, you have to remember that we became European champions only nine months ago, and that we were not that far from reaching the final in London. If we had made the final, I might not have been so courageous this time, when it comes to experiments.

A tribute to Lars Christiansen

In connection with the second match, in Odense on 4 November, the spectators will also get the opportunity to say goodbye to arguably Denmark´s greatest handball player ever, Lars Christiansen.

After scoring 1503 goals in 338 internationals, both of which are Danish records, the 40 year old left winger ended his career at the end of last season.

Eurohandball.com has asked a few of the people who have been close to Lars Christiansen in his handball career to characterise this remarkable personality.

Ulrik Wilbek, national coach who had Lars Christiansen under his wing in the national team from 2005 to 2012:
“Lars was always a player who wanted to win, but not at any price. He never had any dirty tricks on the court, and that is probably the reason why he is one of the very few players who have never had any enemies on the handball court.

“At the same time he had one of the largest variety of shots in the world.

“He was also special off the court. He always took the time to give autographs and talk to fans as well as to TV stations and other media.”

Lasse Boesen who played with Lars Christiansen in Flensburg Handewitt as well as in KIF Kolding and the Danish national team:
“What is unique about Lars is the fact that you almost never saw him without a smile at training, but his enormous ambition was also characteristic of him.

“Most people tend to see Lars as a very sociable person, but there is also an extremely ambitious Lars inside, and the way I see it, it is the main reason why he achieved what he has.”

Per Frederiksen, former head coach in KIF Kolding and Lars Christiansen´s coach in the early years of his career:
“The way I see it, the main reason why Lars Christiansen made as far as he did in handball was the fact that he simply loved to play with the handball and always tried to experiment with it.

“I often watched him train on his own, rehearsing new ways of shooting, and I am sure that this was the main reason for his enormous shooting repertoire.

“There was no doubt, however, that he was more interested in attacking than what went on at the other end of the court.

“I had to work a lot with his defensive play, and it improved without ever reaching world class.

“Another important quality was the fact that he was always a happy player, almost always with a funny remark on his lips. Such a player is valuable to any team.”

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor


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