Iceland Must Beat Montenegro to Advance to Handball Semifinal

Iceland’s men’s national handball team must win their match against Montenegro tomorrow in order to advance to the semi-finals of the 2022 European Handball Championships. Yet victory alone will not ensure their advance in the tournament: it is also dependent on Denmark beating France. Iceland’s team is currently in third place in Group I, with four points.

The men’s handball team started the tournament on a high note, winning all three of their matches in the preliminary round and advancing to the main round at the top of their group. The streak was interrupted by a COVID outbreak on the team just before Iceland’s match against world champion Denmark, which they lost 24-28. That was followed by a 29-21 victory against Olympic champions France on January 22 and a disappointing 22-23 loss to Croatia last night.

Iceland plays Montenegro tomorrow at 2:30 PM UTC.

COVID-hit Iceland loses to Denmark at European Handball Championship

Handball

The Icelandic men’s national handball team suffered a defeat at the hands of Denmark last night. Six Icelandic players tested positive for COVID-19 the night before the game, the first match of the European Handball Championship’s main round. 

Rough news following a smooth start

Following a positive start to the European Handball Championship, which saw the Icelandic men’s national handball team win all three of its matches in the preliminary round, the squad suffered a four-point defeat to Denmark last night. The match was the first game of the tournament’s main round.  

On the evening before the game, news broke that three Icelandic players had tested positive for COVID-19: goalkeeper Björgvin Páll Gústavsson, centre-back Elvar Örn Jónsson, and left back Ólafur Andrés Guðmundsson. More bad news broke on the following morning when it was revealed that captain Aron Pálmarson and winger Bjarki Már Elísson had also tested positive. The final blow arrived just a few hours before the game against Denmark; centre-back Gísli Þorgeir Kristjánsson also tested positive. 

The players have little to no symptoms, according to reports.

Critical of tournament organisers

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Bjarki Már Elísson criticised the tournament organisers for not doing enough to minimise the risk of infection:  

“We’ve been doing everything in our power to avoid infection; we’ve been holed up in our hotels since January 2,” who added that the team had been prepared for the worst after the first three players tested positive.”

“The conditions at the hotel are such that there are tourists and other guests staying alongside us, which, personally, I find absurd. But, of course, there are fans in the stadiums, and we’re doing interviews, so you’re always at some risk. Perhaps it was to be expected,” Bjarki continued. 

“I suppose what’s most disappointing, however, is that tournament organisers didn’t provide better conditions. Ensure that we were more isolated, that there aren’t other people staying at the hotels; all of the teams are eating in the same places, too. This allows infection to spread, and it was expected, but it is also extremely disappointing.”

A tough schedule ahead

Iceland will play its second match of the main round tomorrow, Saturday, January 22. The team will face off against France, the reigning Olympic Champions, with Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson expected to be in the stands. The following two games are against Croatia on Monday (January 24) and Montenegro on Wednesday (January 26). 

COVID Outbreak Interrupts Iceland’s Winning Streak at European Handball Championship

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Five players on the Icelandic men’s national handball team will not be able to play in the team’s European Handball Championship match tonight, as they have tested positive for COVID-19. It is a huge blow to the team, which finished at the top of their group in the preliminary round of the tournament. One of the two Icelandic referees in the tournament has also tested positive for COVID-19.

Iceland’s handball team is set to play its first match in the main round of the European Handball Championships tonight, against Denmark. The Icelandic team won all three of their matches in the preliminary round, which they finished off with a 31-30 victory over Hungary in Budapest last Tuesday.

Yesterday evening, the Icelandic Handball Association reported that three players had tested positive for COVID-19: Björgvin Páll Gústavsson, Elvar Örn Jónsson, and Ólafur Andrés Guðmundsson. This morning, the association reported another two COVID-19 cases within the team, those of Aron Pálmarsson and Bjarki Már Elísson. One of the Icelandic referees at the competition, Anton Gylfi Pálsson, also tested positive for COVID. The players have little to no symptoms, according to reports.

Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson is on his way to Hungary to attend tonight’s match against Denmark, as well as the handball team’s match against France on January 22.