Sweden played a fine tournament ahead of their upcoming World Championship play-off matches, while Iceland, who are also trying to qualify, suffered three defeats at the Nettbuss Open
Fine dress rehearsal for Sweden at Nettbuss Open
The situation was different for the four participants at this weekend´s (24 to 26 May) Nettbuss Open in Gothenburg.
While Norway and Serbia, who have both already qualified for the World Championship in December, could use the tournament for experiments, it was the last test for the Swedish hosts as well as for Iceland before their respective play-off matches against Poland and Czech Republic.
Sweden gained a lot of self-confidence before their matches against Poland, as they won the tournament ahead of Serbia, Norway and Iceland.
The Swedish team started by beating Iceland 30:25 on Friday and despite of throwing away a 15:13 lead at half-time against Serbia, resulting into a 27:28 defeat on Saturday, a 28:25 win against Norway on Sunday was enough to win the tournament, as Norway had defeated Serbia 25:24 on the first match day.
The last match between Sweden and Norway became an equal affair, with Sweden leading 14:13 at half-time, and the score being 25-all with five minutes left.
However, three unanswered goals from Hanna Fogelström, Ida Odén and Jamina Roberts decided the matter, as the Swedish defence managed to block every Norwegian attempt in the last minutes.
Iceland could gain some confidence at the end of the tournament by playing an even match against Serbia on Sunday. However, the hosts of the World Championship won 22:21 after having been up 11:10 at half time.
Despite the defeat, the match was Iceland´s best performance in the tournament after having lost 25:30 to Sweden and even 20:33 to Norway.
Quite naturally, there was joy in the Swedish camp after the successful dress rehearsal.
"It was great to win the tournament. It is good for the squad and for the process with this team to get a win against Norway. We are pretty sure now, where our players stand, and we can benefit from that, when we nominate the squad for the World Championship qualifiers.
"Now it is all about preparing for the matches against Poland,” Sweden´s national coach Torbjörn Klingvall told the website of the Swedish Handball Federation.
Linn Blohm, who was awarded best line player of the tournament, was just as happy.
"Cool. I had not expected that before the tournament, but everything turned out fine, in the attack as well as in the defence, and defeating Norway is not exactly something we are used to," she said.
Sweden play their first play-off match against Poland on Sunday (2 June), and the second leg away on Saturday (8 June), while Iceland also have the home right in their first match against Czech Republic on 2 June and the return match away on 8 June.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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