Two months out of the 2013 World Championship, eurohandball.com talks to Danish top star Mikkel Hansen
Denmark need to get back to real DNA, says Hansen
Mikkel Hansen is arguably one of the strongest left backs in the handball world.
The 25-year-old was voted 2011 Handball Player of the Year, he became the 2011 World Championship's top scorer and won silver with the Danish national team.
A mere year later he clinched the European crown with Denmark at the EHF EURO in Serbia in January 2012 and also became the top scorer with AG København in the VELUX EHF Champions League season.
Since the start of the 2012/13 season he plays for French side Paris St. Germain HB.
Eurohandball.com met Hansen in Paris and talked to him about the upcoming 2013 World Championship in Spain and the 2014 European Championship in his home country, Denmark.
This is first part of our interview with Mikkel Hansen. Part 2 on his first season in Paris and the VELUX EHF Champions League can be read here.
eurohandball.com: The World Championship is just a couple of months away. Do you think Denmark can win it this time?
Mikkel Hansen: "I hope so. After the experience at the Olympics (Denmark lost their quarter-final against Sweden), we learned that we have to be at 100 per cent all the time. We're not having any expectations at the moment, we will focus on every game.
"It's when you have expectations and shout it out loud that you can get in trouble. People will come back to you and say 'well, you said you would win this time.' We will try our best, but there are so many good teams, so it will be hard.
"To win this chamiponship, we need to get back to our real DNA. Usually, when you see Denmark, you have good goalkeepers, wingers running fast, everybody playing really fast, and everybody jumping on every ball.
"At the Olympics we were like lazy dogs, walking around. I guess we lacked our usual rythm, and that's why we got kicked out."
eurohandball.com: What did you learn from the recent games against Argentina (3 and 4 November, Denmark won the first 29:23, the secon match 28:24)?
Mikkel Hansen: "Well, I didn't play (ed. Hansen missed the two matches because of knee problems). It was a good thing as it gave us the opportunity to make younger players play and make them see what the international level is like. We've got a lot of really good young players, and they will be very useful in the future.
eurohandball.com: Denmark have quite a young team, so the team which will play at the World Championship will likely be the same as the one that will play at the EURO 2014. Are you already thinking about this competition that will take place in Denmark?
Mikkel Hansen: "Not yet, we've got the World Championship first. But you're right, our team is young so it might be a bit similar. We've done it once last January (ed. when Denmark won the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia), so we're thinking 'why not do it again?'
"But it will be very difficult for us, now that we've won once, everyone thinks we're favourites, so everybody wants to beat us."
eurohandball.com: Do you think that playing at home is an advantage or a disavantage? Are there any expectations already from the people in Denmark?
Mikkel Hansen: "I think it's a clear advantage, having the country behind you forces you to be better. When we play in Denmark, we want to play our best, show all of our skills, we want to come up with a show for the crowd, so that they're happy.
"It's really important for us to play at home because we've got the best fans in the world, they follow us everywhere, and we want to give back to them when we play at home."
eurohandball.com: Do you think that being qualified already can be a problem, as Denmark don't have to play the qualification matches?
Mikkel Hansen: "Maybe not, because you can rest the players. By January we will have had three major competitions in 13 months, and everybody is tired. We had one-week break this summer and that's it.
"I am tired, so I can feel for the guys who played the Olympics and who are playing twice a week this year with the Champions League. It might seem strange, but it's good not not to play these qualification games, so we can rest a bit more."
eurohandball.com: Did you watch any of the first qualification matches? And did anyone surprised you?
Mikkel Hansen: [laughs] "Hehe, no. I noticed Germany lost at home, which was a small surprise because they've got a good team but it lacks experience. That was the only surprise though, wasn't it?
eurohandball.com: What's your opinion on the Danish women's team just a few weeks out of the Europeab Championship in Serbia?
Mikkel Hansen: "I heard about the new young team in Denmark, and they seem to be having quite good results, so that's always good for us."
TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
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