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Flash quotes: match day 11

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Post-match statements on the 11th day of the Men's EHF EURO 2022 in Hungary and Slovakia.

GROUP I

Iceland vs Croatia
Denmark vs Netherlands
Montenegro vs France

GROUP I

Iceland vs Croatia 22:23

Budapest, 24 January — Quotes from Croatia coach Hrvoje Horvat (CRO), Tin Lucin (CRO), right back Ivan Martinovic (CRO) and goalkeeper Ivan Pesic (CRO), and Iceland coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson (ISL), goalkeeper Viktor Hallgrímsson (ISL) and left wing Orri Freyr Þorkelsson (ISL), after Croatia beat Iceland 23:22 in main round group I in Budapest on Monday.

Hrvoje Horvat (CRO) — coach

On the match:

“It’s always a fantastic feeling to win the game. It was a tough game between two teams hit by Covid. It was not nice watching some parts of the game but I think the fight was perfect. We knew that Iceland have a big heart, a tremendous team spirit, and I think we showed also today how we fight for Croatia.”

Tin Lucin (CRO) — left back

On the match:

“We knew before the game that it would be one tough game; that Iceland is a really good team. They showed a really good performance against France. We go full — 100 per cent every player. I’m really proud of all the players, all the staff, all the people who support us.”

Ivan Martinovic (CRO) – right back

On their performance:

“It was a really tough match from the beginning. We started quite poorly, while Iceland built up a five-goal lead. But we believed in ourselves, and we could come back to the game at the end of the first half.

“The second half was perfect, our defence was aggressive and Ivan Pesic saved a lot of shots. Then we developed a five-goal advantage of our own, but we became a little bit tired in the process, so Iceland could bounce back to level the scores. Moreover they even had the lead again.

“But we never back down, we fight until the end. We wanted to show our fans how much we care for the victory. Thank God Ante Gadza converted his last chance, and we won this thrilling match.”

Ivan Pesic (CRO) - goalkeeper

On the match:

“It was a very tough game. For 50 minutes we played very good handball, but after that we missed too many opportunities which could have decided the match. Iceland changed the zones, they played seven to six. But we came back and showed our character.

“We have so many problems because of the coronavirus, we are tired but I am very proud of my team. I was not in the locker room at the half-time break so I do not know what the coach said to the guys, but our defence was amazing in the second half, my teammates helped me a lot.”

Gudmundur Gudmundsson (ISL) — coach

On the match:

“It was a very tough game. We are of course very disappointed because in the end we had the chance to win the game, but we did not score from clear chances two times in very, very important moments.

“It is a very difficult tournament for us. We are without nine key players and we are playing now with not so many players and you could see that today. The second half was difficult but I think we came into the game playing seven-against-six — it was very well done by the team. But in the end I have to give a great compliment for the fighting spirit for the way they did things today.”

On the EHF EURO 2022:

“This tournament has been, for us, very strange, regarding all these Covid-19 issues with our players and we will have to see how we continue. Maybe in the end, the team that wins has the least Covid in their ranks.”

Viktor Hallgrímsson (ISL) — goalkeeper

On the match:

“It was a really tough game. We started off really well — had good control over the Croatian offence but in the second half we made a few mistakes and the Croatian defence played really good in the second half. Just a tough game overall.”

On the fan support:

"It is always fun to have Icelandic people to cheer for you when you make a save. It is an extra that helps a lot."

Orri Freyr Þorkelsson (ISL) - left wing

On the match:

“We were able to build up a two-goal lead in the first half but after the break we felt a little tiredness and we made awful mistakes in the offense. Our defence performed very well and we had the chance to win this game, but we did not live up to the task. It was an extremely important match but we lost.”

On their last main round match, against Montenegro:

“We still have one more match in the main round where we will try to give our best and be sharp against Montenegro because this team deserves to be in the semi-final.”

 

Denmark vs Netherlands 35:23

Budapest, 24 January – Quotes from Denmark left back Henrik Møllgaard (DEN), right wing Johan a Plogv Hansen (DEN) and left back Mikkel Hansen (DEN), and Netherlands centre back Luc Steins (NED), goalkeeper Thijs Van Leeuwen (NED) and centre back Dani Baijens (NED) after Denmark beat the Netherlands 35:23 in their main round group I match in Budapest on Monday.

Henrik Møllgaard (DEN) - left back

On qualifying for the semi-finals:

“This is our third semi-final in the last year, and this is new for us. It’s great, it means that we can stay at the top and play very well in the long term. We have won all the games so far, this tournament has been a lot of ups and downs, but we manage to get through it so that’s good.”

On playing against France on Wednesday:

“Playing them in the main round is not the same as playing against them in the final tournament. They are a great team, but this game will have less importance than if we meet them again in the final. However, if we can put them on the plane back home on Wednesday night, we will. We want to keep the momentum, keep the confidence we have gathered so far with yet another win.”

Johan a Plogv Hansen (DEN) - right wing

On their performance:

“We started the game with full concentration and we played fantastic handball in the first half. We knew it would be an important match as we had the opportunity to advance to the semi-final and we were able to do it.”

On their final main round match, against France:

“Of course, we will have one game before the final weekend and we would like to keep on winning but I think we can rest a bit more on that clash and those who have not played that much before will have a bigger role. I would like to thank our amazing fans who supported us in this wonderful arena and I hope they will stay here until the final and we can please them with a great result.”

Mikkel Hansen (DEN) – left back

On the result:

“We reached the semi-final, but it does not change a lot. Maybe we can rest some of our players against France but we need to keep going with the same intensity.”

On the atmosphere in the arena:

"The fans are great, we all like to play in front of our spectators, that is why we do this. The semi-final and the final will be tough as always, it does not matter who is the opponent you need to play on the highest level.”

Luc Steins (NED) - centre back

On the game:

“Denmark were obviously the best team on the court tonight. They seem to be unstoppable since the start of the competition. Even when they are playing with their substitutes, it seems like they could win against any team. I think we played the best we could, but we are beginning to be tired. Kay Smits’ absence was, as you can imagine, bad news for us. We have one more game before the end of the tournament, we want to play as well as possible to finish in style.”

Thijs van Leeuwen (NED) - goalkeeper

On the defeat:

“It was easy to see that lot of players are really tired in our team. We knew it was going to be a really hard game against Denmark. We had to make some changes again due to Covid which affected mainly our defensive output. We had a different player in the middle against Montenegro and that makes a big difference at the heart of the defence.

“In the second half we showed some strength, but the first half was way too soft and we showed too much respect for them. We want to leave the tournament with a good vibe so we really need to play well in the last match. That is the most important.”

Dani Baijens (NED) – centre back

On their performance:

“We did not start well and that cost us a lot of energy. We missed too many important players and we could not compete with Denmark. In the second half we played a little bit better and there was a bit more energy in defence, but it was not enough today.”

On the support from the stands:

“I am grateful for the fans. My uncle was among them today as well and it means a lot to me. It is nice to see that our fans cheer the national team from the beginning of the EHF EURO. Unfortunately, we could not reward them with a victory but against Croatia we will fight again and try to win.”

 

Montenegro vs France 27:36

Budapest, 24 January – Quotes from France coach Erick Mathé (FRA), left back Nikola Karabatic (FRA) and centre back Aymeric Minne (FRA), and Montenegro coach Zoran Roganovic (MNE), right back Branko Vujovic (MNE) and goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic (MNE) after France beat Montenegro 36:27 in main round group I in Budapest on Monday.

Erick Mathé (FRA) - coach

On the match:

“I think we tried to put a good rhythm throughout the game, and maybe in the second half, Montenegro struggled physically. We tried to make the difference physically, and it seems like we managed to do it.”

Nikola Karabatic (FRA) - left back

On the match:

“Vincent [Gerard, goalkeeper] got a red card, it was a tough moment for us, but then Wesley [Pardin] played a great game. We managed to play well in the second half.

“The first one was a bit tougher as Montenegro played really well at the start. They showed in the previous games that they are a great team. We knew that beforehand. They played level with us for 20 minutes, but our defence was even better in the second half and we managed to score some easy goals. We showed tonight a better performance than we did two days ago.”

Aymeric Minne (FRA) – centre back

On the victory:

“We did not start this game well against Montenegro. We were a little bit stressed because we had to win this match, therefore we lost a few balls at the beginning. We also lost our goalkeeper [Vincent Gerard], but Wesley Pardin did a great job.

“The second half was much better. Our defence improved, and we scored a lot of fast break goals. This nine-goal victory will give us confidence against Denmark on Wednesday.

On the support in the stands:

“I really appreciate that our fans came to the arena to support us. They are our eighth player and they are doing a great job.”

Zoran Roganovic (MNE) - coach

On the match:

“We lost the momentum in the first 30 minutes of the game. When we were at 10:10, we missed some crucial shots. We did not make the most of Nebojsa Simic’s good start and when you don’t use your chances against such a team, you are punished. They were physically better in the second half and that made the difference.”

Branko Vujovic (MNE) - right back

On the defeat:

“We played good in the first 20 minutes, but France made the most of our turnovers afterwards to score easy goals. We tried to come back but we did not use our chances. If you play like that against the Olympic champions, you cannot win.”

Nebojsa Simic (MNE) – goalkeeper

On the reason for their defeat:

“In my opinion France beat us in defence. Besides that, it was an amazing game by my colleague, Wesley Pardin. We had the chance to come back but he made some extraordinary saves.

On Montenegrin spirit:

“We fought for 60 minutes, kept our heads high, and celebrated each goal as we want to enjoy every moment of this tournament. The fans were amazing, they kept singing until the very end. They realize that this game is David against Goliath, so they cheered us despite the defeat.”

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