The Icelandic national team in men’s handball suffered a devastating loss against the Czech Republic in the fourth round at the World Cup in Qatar yesterday evening, 25-36. Iceland’s coach Aron Kristjánsson described his team’s performance as “extremely poor” and a “shock” after the excellent game against France.
“We were completely on our heels while our preparation was aimed at guaranteeing us a continued [spot in the competition],” Aron told RÚV. He added that Saturday’s game against Egypt is the deciding match and that there is no other option than victory for Iceland.
“This loss is everyone’s fault. It was an absolute breakdown and no one performed decently, even,” commented Iceland’s captain Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson to RÚV. “I didn’t think we were in a bad mood before the game. But when it starts out like this, it’s a bit like being at a funeral. We somehow just kept digging a hole and then we fell into it one after the other.”
“I don’t have to use any adjectives to describe our defense. The defensive players were no less enviable than the goalkeepers. It’s an interplay, of course. The Czechs got a lot of fast breaks which made the team feels insecure,” Guðjón explained. He promised that Iceland will be back in business in time for the game against Egypt.
One of Iceland’s key players Aron Pálmarsson got a blow to his cheekbone in the first half and therefore didn’t play in the second half. The team’s doctor Örnólfur Valdimarsson said Aron had not been feeling well before the game either.
The other two Icelandic coaches in Qatar, Guðmundur Guðmundsson and Dagur Sigurðsson, have guaranteed their teams, Denmark and Germany, a spot in the 16-team playoffs.