European champions go into World Championship with freshly gained confidence
Denmark win warm-up tournament
EHF EURO 2012 champions, Denmark, showed some good form just one week out of the World Championship in Spain by winning a warm-up tournament on home soil, beating European rivals Montenegro and Slovenia as well as African squad Tunisia.
The tournament started on Friday (4 January) in Skjern where Slovenia and Montenegro were the first two teams to face each other on the court.
Slovenia were missing one of their greatest assets, David Spiler, who is nursing knee problems and therefore also in doubt for the World Championship.
But that did not seem to handicap the team in their opening match in which Dragan Gajic was particularly remarkable. With eleven goals the right wing from Montpellier contributed considerably to the Slovenian 31:26 win.
Denmark and Tunesia were next, and in a match during which the Danes had obvious problems making their new 3-2-1 defence work, Tunisia were leading 16:15 at half-time and managed to keep the match level all the way before the Danes could finally secure a one-goal win - 30:29.
On Saturday the tournament moved to Denmark´s fourth largest city, Aalborg, where Slovenia started by taking another five-goal win, beating Tunesia 28:23.
The following match between Denmark and Montenegro in front of almost 3,500 spectators became rather one-sided as the Danes were leading 18:7 already at half-time. At the end the result stood at 38:21 for the host.
The Montenegrins never got their game working while the Danish fast breaks were efficient and all four Danish wingers were particularly dangerous.
The result was particularly remarkable as Denmark´s national coach Ulrik Wilbek chose to let Mikkel Hansen, 2011 World Hnadball Player of the Year, rest for the entire 60 minutes.
On Sunday Aarhus, Denmark´s second largest city, hosted the last two matches.
Tunisia and Montenegro, who are also going to meet each other in the Preliminary Round in Spain, met in the first match which Tunesia won 30:28 win.
In a hall packed with 5,000 spectators Denmark and Slovenia then decided the first place between them.
Mikkel Hansen was back in the Danish team and after an equal first half - Denmark led 14:12 after 30 minutes - the home team managed to increase the lead, as the second half progressed.
Gajic scored 11 goals for Slovenia once again – seven of them from the penalty line – but this time it did not help his team as much as Denmark won the match 35:30 and the entire tournament with maximum of six points.
“Our goal for the World championship is still the same as it has been all the time – reaching the semi-final. However, I am very happy to notice where the team stands at the moment," Denmark´s national coach Ulrik Wilbek said.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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