Fun while it lasted!

Talking about MALE handball in the World
Rammy
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Fun while it lasted!

Postby Rammy » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:05 pm

Upsets are fun to an extent, but maybe there were a few too many this time! Who is going to touch the big four in Qatar? Poland? I was particularly sad to lose Iceland.

It was fun to have a small nation among the big guns, but that is now in the past! I cannot
see Iceland ever being a top 10 nation again.

Sweden will be back (they are in the 2015 tournament of course, but it's too early for them), Germany and Serbia, too, but Iceland I fear not.

They might sneek into the odd tournament again, but with Sigurdsson, Petersson, Gudjonsson et al being well past the 30, Palmarsson will not be able to carry them further than say, tenth. There is just not enough young talent coming through. Handball is too big a sport, and Iceland too small a nation for it to last. I would love to be wrong, but I fear that I am not.



Ivar
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby Ivar » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:49 pm

Rammy wrote:I cannot see Iceland ever being a top 10 nation again.

They might sneek into the odd tournament again


Please stop being so negative, I'm upset enough already. ](*,)
Let's take a look for a moment, which countries could be considered the top 10 not including Iceland?

Denmark, France, Croatia and Spain are pretty much in a league of their own right now. The other six might include Hungary, Sweden, Slovenia, Poland... maybe Russia? Serbia? Czech Republic? Germany?

Do you notice something here? Hungary is eliminated. Slovenia missed the last Euro. Sweden missed the last WC. With all due respect to those teams, Russia, Serbia and Czechia are not very consistent performers as you could see in the playoffs, much less Germany. All of these countries (besides the top four) miss a major tournament every now and then. The current tenth best national team probably isn't anywhere near good enough to win a medal, probably.

Our golden generation is definitely ending, but we have some good talent stepping up. Besides Aron Pálmarsson, there's Rúnar Kárason, Ólafur Guðmundsson, Ólafur Gústafsson, Stefán Rafn Sigurmansson and others. I guarantee Iceland will be back in the Euro 2016. Probably not the next Olympics, but that's a weird qualification system anyways.
Last edited by Ivar on Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

william
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby william » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:49 pm

That is right. There are some younger talents in the pipeline with experience in Germany or Scandinavian professional leagues, which is amazing given the small number of active players. Problem is left back as I see at the moment. Only Palmarsson for that position.

Rammy
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby Rammy » Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:05 am

Norway didn't qualify either, but it is not the same disaster for them. They have slowly started to bring younger players in. Iceland have not. Karason (now injured) and to a lesser extent Gudmundsson are the only younger players they have even used lately. That is why this is so bad. They would have needed to qualify, and at least have a shot at the Olympics to keep the older Guns interested.

Gustafsson and Sigurmansson have done nothing for over two years, sittning on the bench in Germany. Gudmundsson has some talent, but there is not a decent pivot in sight, under 30. Heimisson was selected for the bigger squad, but he is far from international class. I believe that his Swedish club will get rid of him. Goalkeepers are of course, as always a problem. And none of the players mentioned are potential super stars.

This is all about opinions, of course, but William, I do not agree at all. It is not left-back that is the problem. It is all the other positions! Petersson will probably retire from international duty right now, as will Jakobsson. And the rest is just getting older.

Sure, Iceland could beat Montenegro and get back into Euro 2016, but remember they are usually better than Bosnia. And while the number of half decent players is still admirable, it is nowhere near what Sweden or even Norway have coming through. So top 5 again? I just don't see it. Wish I could!

Ivar
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby Ivar » Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:40 pm

Norway didn't qualify either, but it is not the same disaster for them. They have slowly started to bring younger players in. Iceland have not. Karason (now injured) and to a lesser extent Gudmundsson are the only younger players they have even used lately. That is why this is so bad. They would have needed to qualify, and at least have a shot at the Olympics to keep the older Guns interested.


I gave you the benefit of the doubt in your original post, but it's clear now that you don't know what you're talking about, because you're completely wrong. I'm going to try to explain this to you position by position, hopefully you will understand.

Goalkeeper: Björgvin Páll Gústavsson (28) has been inconsistent both with club and nation since the Olympics in 2008, so we can't always rely on him, this is true. We need another keeper. His name is Aron Rafn Eðvarsson. He's 24, over 2 meters tall, and has been impressive in the Swedish league recently. He's a good talent, and I expect him to become first choice for the national team in the next few years. There are a few other young keepers in Iceland that might break into Europe in the next years, but that's for the future. This position is probably going to continue being a big question mark, but that's how it's always been for Iceland.

Left Wing: Guðjón Valur has been hogging this position for a long time, and with good reason. He's the second biggest goalscorer for any national team in the history of the sport (behind Peter Kovacs), and he's probably got at the very least two or three more good years in him before he retires. Stefán Rafn Sigurmansson (23) did really well to replace Gensheimer when he was injured in Löwen. According to you he's done nothing in two years, which is completely wrong. Besides him, there's Bjarki Már Elísson (24) who was pretty impressive for Eisenach last season. Not our most manned position when King Sigurðsson leaves, but those two are solid wingers.

Left Back: Iceland is loaded in this position. Aron Pálmarsson often plays here, and Arnór Atlason is still only 29. Ólafur Guðmundsson (23) was one of the best players in the Swedish league last season, and Ólafur Gústafsson (25) is a top player especially in defense, though he's been injured a lot recently. Not much to worry about here, I think.

Center Back: Aron Pálmarsson is already first choice in this position ahead of Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson, but we have other choices. Arnór Atlason can play here if needed. Gunnar Steinn Jónsson (26) was really impressive with Nantes in France last season and in January with the national team. I can see him being an important player for Iceland in the future. There's also Ólafur Bjarki Ragnarsson (25) who impressed with the national team a few years ago, but he's struggled with injury, and I'm not sure how his club career has been since then.

Right Back: Ólafur Stefánsson is retired and Alexander Petersson is getting older, so this position has been in question. Ásgeir Örn Hallgrímsson (29) played very well last January and Rúnar Kárason (25) is one of our top prospects, if he ever stops getting himself injured. Ernir Hrafn Arnarsson (28) could be called up, but he's not been very noticeable recently. This position should be okay for the next few years, we'll see after Alexander retires.

Right Wing: Both Petersson and Hallgrímsson can play here, but Þórir Ólafsson is usually the first choice. He's pretty old, but Arnór Þór Gunnarsson (26) is very capable, IMO. Not really our best position, but as long as we have at least one pure right winger, we'll manage.

Pivot: I'm most worried about this position. Róbert and Kristján are 33 and 32. Bjarki Már Gunnarsson (25) is mainly a defensive player (one of our best), and so is the 33 year old Vignir Svavarsson. Heimir Óli Heimisson (24), as you mentioned, has not adapted well to the Swedish league. We might end up moving our defense specialists into offense, or we the coach might bring in someone playing in Iceland. Either way, Róbert Gunnarsson and Kári Kristjánsson are going to leave a big void.

We've got some positions that are weaker than others, but you're over-exaggerating. You're making it sound like Iceland is going to end up like Romania.

So top 5 again? I just don't see it.


Oh, so it's not top 10 anymore, it's top 5 now? Listen, you don't need to be the fifth best handball team in the world to qualify for most competitions. Iceland got fifth place in the Euro with many new players, and the Euros have 16 countries. Right now, Iceland is probably somewhere between 5th to 9th best in the world, as is Hungary. This isn't the end of the world for us, just like it isn't the end of the world for the Hungarians, or the Norwegians, or the Serbs, or even the Germans.

Our team has always had dramatic ups and downs, this is just one of those downs.

Rammy
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby Rammy » Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:08 pm

Ivar,
Of course I don't know what I am talking about. If I knew what would happen in 2016 and beyond I would make a killing at the bookies. But are such comments really necessary? A bit immature IMO. You are more impressed by the new generation than I am, and therefore more optimistic. That is fine, but let's leave it at that.

You make it sound that I am belittling Icelandic handball. I am not! I am still amazed at what has been achieved by generations of Icelandic handballers. I just feel it is a shame that the opportunity to squeeze the last out of the Golden generation has been missed. I am still trying to recover from the 2012 Olympics when Iceland just threw away a medal by forgetting everything they knew during the last 10 seconds against Hungary. Gudmundsson forgot to coach, Gudjonsson forgot to throw the ball into the stand, and everybody else forgot to pedal home. A generation like that does not come by very often.

Yes, I do think Iceland will qualify now and again, and No, I don't think Iceland will be another Romania. But post-Sigurdsson maybe a bit like the Czechs? One superstar with a supporting ca'st that will often qualify, but find it hard to go much beyond that.

I actually agree with quite a lot of what you have said about the younger generation. But the problem is that this group will hardly frighten the life out of teams like Norway, let alone the bigger nations. I still think Iceland will struggle to beat Norway over the next few years. And I don't think Norway will be a top nation.

Goalkeeper: I agree with most of your observations. But while Edvardsson may be the future keeper, the old goalkeeper problem will remain. I like him, and he did OK in the Swedish play-offs but it was generally accepted, even by his own coach, that GUIF had a weakness there compared to the other teams.

Left Wing: No need to sell the virtues of Sigurdsson to me or anyone else. The man is a legend, one of the best Wing men in the history yof the game, and certainly the most consistent. But while he is also one of the fittest men in the sport (or in any sport) the next possible finals are almost two years off, and he is already 35. As for Sigurmansson he was talked of as a potential superstar a few years back. Nobody, with the possible exception of yourself, does that now. When I have seen Löwen he has played very little, and been unimpressive when brought on. Mind you, that is only when Gensheimer serves a 2 minute suspension. And it seems he has dropped behind Elisson in the pecking order for Iceland. Probably needs to move on to get playing time.

Right Wing: I like Thorir, but the Iceland coaches haven't, often playing a right back there. And he is well over 30. Gunnarsson is OK, but not more than that.

Left Back: I don't think the position is loaded, but with Aron and Olafur G it is probably the best one. Arnor Atlasson may not be very old, but he has been disappointing of late. I think he has been a disappointment in France, too.

Centre Back: Unless you clone Aron you will have to find someone else. Gudjonsson is ageing, and while he was brilliant in 2007 and 2008, he hasn't been near that form since. Agree, Gunnar Steinn is a good player, but not a world star. Atlasson played quite a bit there in 2012 and also for Copenhagen before they folded. I thought the balance of the Iceland team was quite good with him in the middle. But he doesn't look the same player now.

Right Back: I do hope Karasson comes back in good shape, he did well in Euro 2014. But again, not a strong position. Do you think Petersson will be available in 2016? I doubt it, and I think his age is beginning to show already.

Defence: Jakobsson will retire, Svavarsson is no spring chicken. Gustafsson maybe if he can get going in Denmark.

There are some good players out there, but they are supposed to replace Stars!

Ivar
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby Ivar » Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:59 pm

I guess that loss to Bosnia isn't out of my system yet. Sorry about that.

This was inevitable, really. It was always wishful thinking that Iceland were going to qualify for every single tournament. Missing only two tournaments in the space of 15 years (since they missed the 2000 Olympics) is completely unprecedented in our history. Considering how inconsistently Iceland performs, it was only a matter of time before this happened again. I'm not completely out of hope that Iceland might make it to Rio, since the fifth or even sixth place in the Euro might grant a spot in the qualifiers. Who knows.

Concerning Alexander Petersson, I don't think he will last nearly as long as Stefánsson did, but I think 2016 will probably be his last tournament for the national team, assuming his shoulder injury doesn't come back. Arnór Atlason has been injured pretty much his entire time in France. I'm just glad he came back, unlike Logi Geirsson. We'll see if he can find his 2010 form again.

I would not be surprised to see Guðjón Valur last as long, or longer than Lars Christiansen. He's almost 35 now, but his age isn't showing at all. He's still our primary fast break target and he can run like an animal for the entire 60 minutes. It's insane.

I don't think Iceland recently has had that many big stars to replace. Just Sigurðsson, Pálmarsson and Stefánsson, in my opinion. Ólafur Stefánsson was of course a tactical genius that we might never reproduce, and I've already talked about Sigurðsson. They're both irreplaceable, and their retirement will leave our team weaker, but I'm not as pessimistic for their replacements as you are.

We also have good coaches that have a history of pulling out the best in our players. The fifth place last January is a prime example of that.

By the way, I think the Czech Republic is a bit underrated. Stehlik and Stochl are both great players every time I watch them.

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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby mikh » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:12 pm

I understand you when you say it hurts. 2006 hurt a lot for Romanian fans, when the female NT missed its only final tournament. Only 6 months after world silver.

I think you have plenty of talented and most of your players are making it in the big leagues. I wouldn't rate this as a disaster. In men handball there are so many equal teams and not enough places available (especially in a WCh). Look at Slovenia, missing Euro after WCh bronze. And now Hungary and Germany. Things have gotten really competitive and at this rate we will have this kind of heartbreaks following every play-off. I think what's different for us to wrap our heads around is that teams like Austria, Czech R. and Bosnia have actually made significant progress and they are rightful challengers of the old hierarchies.

About Czech R. They are not underrated, but sometimes they play absolutely awful! Remember Euro 2014. It was painful to watch them. It's just an inconsistent team, despite it's absolute overall value.

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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby Grzymisław » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:39 pm

Future of Icelandic doesn't seem that bad What many forget a little bit is that future best handballer of the world and possibly 2nd ever after Nikola Karabatić - Aron Palmarsson - may lead national team for next 10 years at least Many players are growing. It's time to leave Atlason(since late 2012 injury isn't anymore top player), Gudjonsson(dissapointing for years and misses a lot of 7-m shots at important stage), Kristjansson(only looks big and very viking, but cannot use of his physical strength, much worse than he was few years ago), Svavarsson(never got a lot of time in offense, while there are other strong defenders) and possibly Olafsson(as he won't play in Kielce anymore and is very old as for winger) and give more playing time for likes of Olafur Gudmundsson, Gunnar Jonsson, Runar Karason at the back, Sigurmansson or Elisson and Gunnarsson as wingers, Edvardsson as first goalkeeper, Bjarki Gunnarsson as defense specialist next to Jakobsson and hope Geir Gudmundsson to be new Petersson in 2-3 years. Real problem will be with line player position(poor play there recently, but in the past with Sigfus Sigurdsson and then Robert Gunnarsson it was the core of Icelandic attack, these line goals and 7-m won by them). Of course Gunnarsson may be active for a while, but expecting Svavarsson to become more universal in weaker team in Denmark, Kristjansson to be back to form or Atli Aevar Ingolfsson to become a star is all very fantastic, not realstic.
So 2 positions - left wing, because Sigurdsson is simply a legend, world top 5 left winger for nearly 10 years(but too old to expect more than 2-3 seasons from him) and line position are crucial now for Iceland. At the back it is more about letting new players with really a potential to play more and it may work soon. Of course Palmarsson and Petersson have to be fit to play for medals, but still this elimination is an accident, result of 2 very bad games, Palmarsson and Edvardsson missing, too many turnovers produced generally by back players and wrong personal decisions by coach, all at the same moment. And very bad penalty shot by Gudjonsson in the return game, when result was tied, was like decisive mistake...

william
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby william » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:35 pm

I wouldn't bet that Petersson will last two more years. His shoulder problems never really got fixed and he has to play almost always since he is an incredible defense player too and RNL compete in CL as well. So right back is a real problem. But I see Iceland clearly stronger than the Czechs. Their players mostly compete in first leagues of Germany, denmark and Sweden while when you look at the Czech they have players in Germanys second league. They have by far bigger problems. Iceland is definatly among the top 10. Top 5 has been an exception given the tiny size of the population.

sindri
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Re: Fun while it lasted!

Postby sindri » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:58 am

Super disappointed we failed to qualify but not overly concerned. After failing to qualify in 1999 and 2000 people thought Iceland was done with the lose of a lot of the generation that impressed so in 97, we then whent on to make the semis at the euros and 7th in the WC in 2002 and 2003.
Same story in 2008 when we lost to Macedonia in the 09 playoffs, Iceland then takes silver in Beijing and bronze in Austria.

Truth is Iceland has always been producing quality handballers and coaches and will continue to do so.
Its all done to coaching. And youth handball in Iceland gets a higher standard of coaching then most other nations.
It also isnt a coincidence that this season 4 of the top teams in Germany had an Icelandic coach, or that strong nations like Denmark(and Austria) seek Icelandic coaches.

Iceland will also fail to qualify for more tournament in the future, but I am also almost positive that we will qualify for more then we will miss out on.
Ólafur Stefánsson(and Guðjón Valur when he retires) are absolutely irreplaceable, they are 2 of the greatest players in there position of all time(or at least of the last 20years) so there is no way they can be replaced.
But the Icelandic NT doesnt need to "replace" them, look at the Icelandic NTs that have had success in the past(89,91,02,08) we have never had a team full of superstars. Only ever 1-2 really world class players(who I think for us will be Aron Pálmarsson for the next 10 years) and then a group of decent to good players that where formed into a good team unit by good coaches.
And I doubt that will change.

And as sad as I am to see us fail to qualify this time its nice to traditionally "smaller" handball nations do well in this qualifier. Means they are getting stronger which can only be good for this sport we love so much.


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