National handball team vs Faroe Islands: evolution of forklift drivers – sport

When you think of the Faroe Islands, the first thing that comes to mind is the breathtaking landscape of the North Atlantic archipelago between Norway and Iceland. Fishing grounds are rich, it is wonderful to go hiking or observe the lush birdlife. When it comes to sports on the archipelago, many people think of that odd football goalkeeper in the white bobble cap, whose parades once made the Austrian national team the laughing stock of Europe. It is true that 32 years have passed since then, but it is better to avoid joking about the epic embarrassment of a Viennese cafe today. After the defeat against the amateur team from the far north, Austrian team boss Josef Hickersberger resigned. This Faroese goalkeeper was called Jens Martin Knudsen and, in addition to his work as a forklift driver, he was also a national gymnastics champion and goalkeeper for the national handball team.

A lot has happened since then, and not just in football in the Faroe Islands. When the German national handball team meets the Faroe Islands for the first of two World Cup qualifiers in Kiel in a week (April 13, 6:15 p.m., Sport1) (return match April 16 in Torshavn), the national coach Alfred Gislason can be sure that a specialist will be standing in the opposing goal: Nicholas Satchwell, 30, plays for former Icelandic champions KA Akureyri, who should be well known to the national coach, as Gislason started his career there active as a handball player. The majority of Faroese players earn their money abroad in Scandinavia in Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Aki Egilsnes has been called up by second division club EHV Aue.

The team’s highest-scoring player is Skipagøtu’s only 19-year-old playmaker Elias Ellefsen at Skipagøtu, who is currently the top scorer for Swedish champions Sävehof IK in the European League and who “is being chased by half the Europe”, as Gislason knows. Coaching the underdog also means quality, Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen was an assistant coach for the Danish national team and coach of former Danish champions BSV Bjerringbro/Silkeborg. “The handball there has improved a lot,” Gislason respectfully says, “it will be extremely important that we focus on those games.”

Has many shooting variations: Elias Ellefsen in Skipagøtu (right) in the Sävehof IK jersey.

(Photo: Mathilda Ahlberg/Bildbyran/Imago)

Nevertheless, the national coach is struggling to minimize the role of favorites for his selection, especially since the Faroe Islands only reached these final qualifiers after being banned by the Belarusian team. Axel Kromer, sporting director of the German Handball Federation (DHB), is clearer: “Of course we have to win and go to the World Cup,” he says; the 2023 World Cup will take place in Poland and Sweden in January. However, studying the video of the opponent, Kromer also acknowledged that “it already looks like the best handball”.

Even news of Melsunger right winger Timo Kastening’s long-running failure to tear his cruciate ligament doesn’t change the default, club colleague Tobias Reichmann will step up for him. Otherwise, Gislason and his team continue the rejuvenation process initiated during the Chaos European Championship in Bratislava. The Icelander surprisingly does without Bundesliga leader Magdeburg’s Philipp Weber and relies on young playmaking duo Juri Knorr, 21, (Rhein-Neckar Löwen) and Luca Witzke, 23, (Leipzig). “They have a small advantage,” explains the coach, as both are better defenders. they also ‘showed good things in the friendlies against Hungary’ in March. In any case, he prefers actors who can be used more flexibly. And Weber, says Gislason, currently plays almost exclusively at left-back at Magdeburg.

In addition to qualifying for the World Cup, these games are also important for the development of the team, says Gislason, because he identified enough weaknesses in the trials against Hungary (31:31 and 30:29). With which he mainly tackled the inside block in defense, probably the biggest conversion measure for the future. He is to replace Hendrik Pekeler and Patrick Wiencek, his defensive mainstays. Wiencek will be officially dropped from the national team in Kiel after the game. Not Pekeler, he’s only on break, says Gislason: “The door is still open for Peke.”


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