INTERVIEW: International top players such as Kristian Kjelling and Håvard Tvedten are not at the disposal for Norway in the World Championship play-offs against Austria, but still goalkeeper Ole Erevik sees good chances for his team to make it to Qatar
Norway hope to compensate for absentees
Left winger Håvard Tvedten is not available, while the experienced left back Kristian Kjelling and young right back Kent Robin Tønnesen have both picked up injuries ahead of Norway´s play-off matches again Austria, away on this coming Saturday and at home on 14 June.
Still, goalkeeper Ole Erevik is pretty confident before the two matches which will decide whether Norway or Austria will be present at the World Championship in Qatar next January.
Of course, it has not escaped Erevik´s attention that Austria are also missing a couple of key players, Roland Schlinger and Max Hermann.
“Of course, we would like to have had our strongest outfit, and so would the Austrians probably. I am not sure what this is going to mean to the matches, but I still think we have a fairly good chance to win over two matches.
“However, we have to realise that we are facing an opponent who actually did better than us at the recent (EHF) EURO, so we can hardly claim to be favourites,” said Erevik, referring to the fact that Austria reached the main round at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark in January, while the Norwegian bowed out after the preliminary group phase.
Three test matches as preparation
The Norwegians have prepared for the meetings with the Austrians with three test matches, all three on away ground, and all three with Norwegian wins as the outcome.
Last week Sweden were defeated 25:21 and 30:24, and on Tuesday Germany were the latest victims, asfter Norway took a 32:30 win, coming from 23:17 behind.
In the matches against Sweden, the Swedish team consisted entirely of players from the domestic league, and therefore Ole Erevik does not put all that much emphasis on those results.
“It was not exactly a Swedish top team we met, but still the matches gave us a chance to focus on our own play. Against Germany, then, we had the opportunity to adjust our play, so all in all those matches were fine preparations,” said the 34-year-old goalkeeper from Danish runners-up Aalborg Handball.
He makes no secret of the fact that he would see it as a huge disappointment if he and his teammates should fail to qualify for the World Championship.
“For the young players in our team, it would mean a lot to their development to play a World Championship at this point, and to us “elderly” players it would be great to experience something exotic, like a week or three in Qatar, so obviously, it would be an extremely big disappointment if we should fail to qualify.
“However, as I said, I believe we have a really good chance to go on. Much of it will be question of getting a good result in the away game this Saturday, so that we can make it all clear in the second leg at home,” concluded Erevik.
The Norwegian squad:
Goalkeeper: Ole Erevik (Aalborg Handball), Espen Christensen (Lugi HF), Magnus Dahl (HSG Wetzlar)
Left wing: André Lindboe (Elverum Håndball), Magnus Jøndal (Follo HK)
Right wing: Kristian Bjørnsen (FyllingenBergen), Steffen Berg Løkkebø (TV Emsdetten)
Line player: Bjarte Myrhol (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Joakim Hykkerud (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf), Magnus Gullerud (SønderjyskE)
Back court: Espen Lie Hansen (Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral), Johannes Hippe (Lugi HF), Sander Sagosen (Haslum HK), Christian O‘Sullivan (Bækkelaget Håndball Elite), Børge Lund (Bodø HK), Gøran Sørheim (Drammen HK), Christoffer Rambo (GWD Minden), Harald Reinkind (FyllingenBergen), Eivind Tangen (FyllingenBergen)
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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