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09.08.2017, 10:29
Norwegians putting faith in strong defence
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PREVIEW: Norway's coach is planning to take the Women's 17 EHF EURO one game at a time
 

Norwegians putting faith in strong defence

Norway's U17 women's coach Pål Oldrup Jensen is quietly confident ahead of the start of the Women's 17 EHF EURO in Slovakia. He says his team brings several qualities which could help them progress through the competition.

“The defence is likely to be the strongest part of our game, but in general, I see our squad as being very equal and united as well as physically strong,” Jensen says. “If we can make our defence function, however, I see our chances as very good.”

The Norwegians have been preparing for the championship by taking part in a tournament in Germany. They reached the final there, and Jensen is content with the result.

“I feel we are well prepared, but the first championship with a new vintage is always exciting, and you will never know completely where you stand before the action starts,” Jensen says before the Norwegian delegation sets off for Slovakia.

He has a modest first objective for his team, explaining: “First of all, we aim to qualify for the World Championship next year. When we've accomplished that, we can review our goal, and a semi-final would then be our next aim.

“However, first of all, we focus on our preliminary group and on progressing from that,” says Jensen, adding he has immense respect for the opponents in Group D. Here, the other teams are Serbia, Spain and hosts Slovakia.

The 11 best ranked teams from the Women's 17 EHF EURO will qualify directly for the Women's 18 World Championship in Poland next year.

Two-point target

Reaching the main round with two points will be essential

“We will be starting against Serbia, and I admit that we do not know much about them in advance,” Jensen confesses. “However, Serbia often come with some strong vintages, and in an opening match, we are prepared that they will be a difficult opponents anyway.

“We met Slovakia in Germany and defeated them after an equal first half,” Jensen adds. “This time they are on home ground, which should give them an advantage and which will probably also make them give a little extra.”

Norway have also played Spain before.

“We met Spain already before Christmas, but I am sure they have improved since then. They are very hard to withstand, if they get to play the type of handball they like to play, so with those three opponents, I am sure we will have our work cut out for us already in the group,” Jensen believes.

“It will be essential to us to take two points with us to the main round,” he continues. “If you reach the main round with zero points, it will at least be very difficult to reach a semi-final.

“Furthermore, if we get to the main round, we are likely to face two highly qualified opponents there,” he says, referring to the fact that Norway's group will meet Group C, including France, Sweden, Romania and the Czech Republic, in the next stage.

“This makes it so much more important to us to take two points with us to the main round,” emphasises Jensen.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / jh / ts
 
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