NEWS REPORT: Despite injury problems Sweden are optimistic ahead of the World Championship play-offs against Romania, but playmaker Lukas Karlsson has a natural respect for the Romanians
Sweden with respect but not lacking confidence
Back in January when Sweden were drawn against Romania for the World Championship play-offs, national coach Staffan Olsson characterised the draw as a “medium draw”, as he found that his team could have faced worse, but also better.
Just ahead of the games, centre back Lukas Karlsson tends to agree with his coach.
“I think we have a good chance to win over two matches, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will be under heavy pressure in the first match in Romania this Saturday. We will need to be very well prepared for that task,” the 32-year-old playmaker from KIF Kolding København told eurohandball.com.
As part of their preparations for the matches against Romania on 7 and 15 June, Sweden have played two friendlies at home against their neighbours from Norway. Both were lost, 25:21 and 30:24, but in those matches, the Swedish team consisted entirely of players from the domestic league, so those defeats will probably not ruin the sleep of national coaches Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren.
What is worse is the fact, that apart from long-term injured right back Kim Andersson, Sweden must also play the qualifiers without left back Kim Ekdahl Du Rietz, left wing Jonas Källman and goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand.
“It will be a big loss to be missing Du Rietz who has done brilliantly in Rhein-Neckar Löwen this season. He adds qualities to our play which no other players really do, and he also adds a lot of physics to our play. We will probably have to be a bit smarter and more refined in our attacking play without him,” finds Lukas Karlsson, who sees missing Du Rietz as a much bigger handicap than being without Sjöstrand.
“Of course, Johan Sjöstrand is a great goalkeeper, but we have so many fine goalkeepers in Swedish handball, and I am sure that Mattias Andersson and Mikael Appelgren can do the job excellently against Romania,” he said.
While his playmaker is beaming with confidence, coach Staffan Olsson is a bit more cautious due to the injured players: “I would not like to put any per cent on our chances, considering the players we are missing. I expect two tough matches, but I hope we can qualify for Qatar.”
Expecting hungry Romanians
It is already a fact that Romania will not qualify for the EHF EURO 2016, as they have already been eliminated by Finland. In the meantime the team has changed coach and Lukas Karlsson is expecting an especially hungry and keen Romanian team who will do everything to qualify for the World Championship next year in Qatar.
“As far as I know, they were missing some of their best players against Finland. Those players should be back now, so I expect to be determined to go for qualifying for the World Championship. However, I see our chances a very good,” Lukas Karlsson said.
The coach is also expecting a hungry Romanian team.
“Only two years ago we won Olympic silver a few months after missing a qualification for a World Championship. That just goes to prove how fast things can change,” concluded Olssen
The Swedish squad:
Goalkeepers: Mattias Andersson (SG Flensburg-Handewitt) Mikael Appelgren (MT Melsungen) Mikael Aggefors (Allingsås HK)
Left wing: Fredrik Petersen (Füchse Berlin) Daniel Tellander (Allingsås HK)
Right wing: Niclas Ekberg (THW Kiel) Mattias Zachrisson (Füchse Berlin)
Line players: Andreas Nilsson (HSV Hamburg) Jesper Nielsen (Füchse Berlin) Niclas Barud (Aalborg Handball)
Back court: Rickard Lönn (TBV Lemgo) Patrik Fahlgren (MT Melsungen) Tobias Karlsson (SG Flensburg-Handewitt) Lukas Karlsson (KIF Kolding København) Jim Gottfridsson (SG Flensburg-Handewitt) Magnus Persson (HK Drott Halmstad) Johan Jakobsson (Aalborg Handball)
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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