Olympics Dream Over for Iceland

The Iceland men’s national handball team saw its hopes for a berth at the 2024 Summer Olympics in France slip away last night. Despite beating Austria 26 to 24 in a pivotal game yesterday afternoon, an unfavourable result in another match meant that Iceland would not move on to the Olympics qualifiers in March.

Iceland’s team has not appeared in the Olympics since the 2012 London games. The team has historically been competitive on the international stage and handball remains very popular in Iceland. The team’s greatest success was the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

Victory in a must-win game

Iceland faced Austria in a must-win game yesterday, the last one of the main round. The team’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stage had already been dashed, but an important consolation prize loomed if everything went right; placement in the Olympics qualifiers.

Iceland saw its first half lead slip away in the second half as the offence stagnated. Scoreless for a 14 minutes stretch, Iceland was still able to secure the victory by two goals in the end. Both starting goalkeepers, Austria’s Constantin Möstl and Iceland’s Viktor Hallgrímsson, played superbly. Sigvaldi Björn Guðjónsson scored eight goals for Iceland and Aron Pálmarsson seven.

France too strong

With a victory in hand, Iceland’s team would need to wait for results from the match between France and Hungary. France had already secured a spot as one of the four teams to move on to the second round, while Hungary would stand a fighting chance with a win over France. A Hungary victory or a tie would have given Iceland a shot at the Olympics qualifiers. However, France proved too dominant and secured the victory.

 

Iceland’s Hopes of a Medal Dashed

Iceland men’s national handball team lost to Germany in their main round match-up of the 2024 European men’s handball championship yesterday. The defeat means that the team now has no chance of climbing the standings to reach the knockout rounds and compete for a medal.

Iceland still has a chance of winning enough games to secure a spot in the Olympics qualifiers to be held in March. They must win at least two of their last three games for that to be possible, Morgunblaðið reports. Reaching the qualifiers is Iceland’s last chance to compete for a berth at this year’s Summer Olympics in France.

A tough defeat

The match took place at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, with rivals Germany enjoying home court advantage as hosts of the tournament. Germany led by one goal at half-time, but when 10 minutes were left, Iceland took its first lead of the game. By the end, Germany pulled back in front and held on to their lead. Iceland’s top scorer was Janus Daði Smárason with six goals. Juri Knorr scored six for Germany as well.

“I’m hurt, upset, and bummed out,” coach Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson told Morgunblaðið after the game. “At the same time, I’m proud of the boys.”

Icelandic record broken

Iceland will face France Saturday, Croatia Monday and Austria Wednesday. Iceland needs at least two victories against these tough opponents to reach the Olympics qualifiers and must secure more points than at least one of Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and the Netherlands to stand a chance.

An Icelandic record was broken yesterday when France’s 40-year old Nikola Karabatic scored his 289th goal in his European championship career. The record for most goals in the tournament was previously held by retired Iceland player Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, who scored 288 competition goals during his illustrious handball career.