PREVIEW: The Danish men and women have a clear goal ahead of the Beach Handball EURO 2017 - both want qualification for the World Championship
Danes go to Croatia with a clear goal
The coaches of the Danish women’s and men’s teams agree on one thing before flying to Zagreb and then travelling south to Jarun Lake for the Beach Handball EURO 2017 starting in just over a week – they both want to qualify for the 2018 IHF Beach Handball World Championship, to be held in Sochi, Russia.
They also agree that reaching their goal will be hard as Denmark prepare to make a return to the Beach Handball EURO following three years of absence after their beach programme lay dormant.
“We want to finish among the six teams who qualify for the World Championship next year,” said women’s coach Morten Holmen ahead of the tournament. “However, we realise that this will be an extremely tough task as we have not been at major tournament for three years so we are in in a bit of doubt where we stand.
“Furthermore, we have been drawn to a very tough group,” said the coach about their group which features ruling champions Hungary, Netherlands, Russia and Germany.
“Hungary are among the top favourites again together with Norway, Spain as world champions and probably Croatia as hosts,” he continued. “Our first aim is to finish among the four teams who qualify for the main round and once you are there, anything can happen.
“But when I look at the teams and their performances so far, I think this will be the strongest European championship ever but I remain optimistic and believe that we can at least clinch a world championship berth.”
Men’s coach Gorm Andersen is hoping that his team’s chances in the capital of Croatia later this month are helped by their relatively unknown quality.
“We are a dark horse at this championship – to ourselves as well as to our opponents,” he said. “We do not really know where we stand, but neither do our opponents, and that may be an advantage to us.
“A further advantage may be that all the teams in our group can probably beat each other, which means that it may not be a disaster to lose a game or two.”
While he does not expect Denmark’s opponents to know much about his team in advance, he realises that this also works the other way around.
“I have been watching the other teams on YouTube and online, but is it actually hard to form an impression as to how they play, so I am still a bit in the dark what to expect,” continued the coach.
In their preliminary group, the Danish men will meet Spain, Hungary, Russia, Germany, Poland and Netherlands with the four best teams proceeding to the main round.
“I realise that all our opponents are probably better prepared than we are,” continued Andresen.
“We have not had much time to prepare together, but the players have had up to 25 matches on the European Beach Tour, so individually, they should be well prepared.
“With a Danish national team, I simply must believe that we are good enough to finish among those five or six teams who will qualify for the world championship in Russia next year - Danish players have such a good handball upbringing that this should make it possible.”
TEXT: Peter Bruun / amc
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