London was London, Aalborg is Aalborg

PREVIEW: Iceland humble prior to their next match against Hungary, though they can make it to the main round


While Iceland can become the first of all EHF EURO participants to book their ticket to the main round, Hungary need to improve clearly to succeed in the rematch of the most stunning 2012 Olympics quarter-final.

But both sides agree that this historic encounter in London has no influence on Tuesday preliminary round game in Aalborg. In London, Iceland were leading by one goal ten seconds before the end and had a penalty shot to make it to the semi-finals.

But Hungarian goalkeeper Nandor Fazekas saved the penalty, started a counter-attack and with the final whistle Hungary equalized and later won 34:33 after extra-time, causing a state of shock on the other side.

“This match is yesterday's water under the bridge. It was nice to win, but today is today,” said Hungarian coach Lajos Mocsai, who had been completely unsatisfied with their opener against Spain (27:34).

“We clearly have to improve in every department,” Mocsai mainly will focus on a higher scoring efficiency from the back court positions.

The last time Hungary beat Iceland at an EHF EURO event is already eight years gone, when the result in Switzerland was 35:31 – as the next two times Iceland remained victorious like in Norway 2008 (36:28) and two years ago in Serbia (27:21).

The problem Mocsai sees for his team is the preparation, as in contrast to former years, when nearly all players were contracted for the two domestic top clubs Szeged and Veszprem, now they arrived for the national tem from all over Europe.

“Iceland are more rehearsed than us,” Mocsai said before Monday’s training session.

Palmarsson still doubtful

On the other hand the “Vikings” can already secure their spot for the main round, if they win again after their 31:26 in the Nordic duel against Norway.

“We don’t look back on what’s happened in London, we only look ahead. And this means that we have to be on 100 percent against Hungary in a match with 50:50 chances for us to win,” said Icelandic goalkeeper Björgvin Gustavsson.

“We have two points on our account now, but this means nothing. If we start bad against Hungary it will be a tough match. We need to have our heads clear and focused,” he added.

After his ankle injury occurred in the very first minutes of the match against Norway, Aron Palmarsson hopes to be fit for Tuesday’s encounter on Icelandic side. But his teammates have proved that even missing their mastermind does not stop them.

Like Gustavsson, first match top scorer Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (nine goals against Norway), is humble: “It all starts at 0:0, later on we will see what we make of it.”

written by Björn Pazen / br