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Sunday, January 31, 2010

GB to Host Euro 2012 Matches

WORLD class handball action is set to come to Great Britain later this year after the draw for the 2012 Men’s European Championships gave GB the right to host their group matches.

Great Britain will play Estonia, Cyprus and Bulgaria over three days from June 11-13, with the winner of the group going through to the second round of qualification, which will be a series of home and away matches against another three opponents.

GB Head Coach Dragan Djukic, pictured, attended the draw in Vienna, and shortly afterwards he said: “I am very happy that we will be officially participating in this tournament alongside all the other European nations, that is the most important thing.

“I am also happy that we have the chance to play at home, because it gives us chance for the British people to see us, and to find out what a beautiful game handball is.

“I am also happy because the players and I believe that our time is coming - that we will be stronger, more experienced and ready for a good fight with our opponents, and I believe we are competitive with them!

“It will also give handball in Britain a good chance to gain experience which is important for the Olympic Games, not just for the players but also for organisers, volunteers, coaches, journalists - everybody.”

Details of the match dates and venues will be released later in the year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

GB Men v Finland: Photos now online

Photographs from Great Britain Men's clash with hosts Finland in the World Championship qualifying tournament are now online.

Click here to see the pictures.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hosts Finland Hold off Battling Great Britain

HOSTS Finland beat Great Britain Men 35-21 in the final match of GB’s World Championship qualifying tournament on Sunday.

Home advantage proved critical for Finland, who were on the ropes throughout the first half with GB leading for much of the opening 30 minutes.

But as in previous games, a lack of strength on the bench proved to be Great Britain’s downfall. Having played 13 games in 22 days, the tough schedule left many the GB squad exhausted, but in no doubt what is required of them if they are to compete at the top level.

“It’s been a tough period for us,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “But it’s been great experience. We’ve shown we can compete with many teams, but we just need to keep it together, learn from our mistakes and perhaps got more strength in depth so that we can compete for the full 60 minutes.”

Steven Larsson proved instrumental in attack for Great Britain with 12 goals, but with the next best being Mark Hawkins with three it was never going to be enough.

“It’s been very good experience and it has shown a lot of the players where we need to be. It’s put us in good stead for our next camp in April, where we will continue the good work and move forward.”

Pic: GB top-scorer with 12 goals, Steven Larsson.

GB Men v Bosnia: Photos now online

Photographs from Great Britain Men's clash with Bosnia Herzegovina in the World Championship qualifying tournament in Finland are now online.

Click here to view.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

GB v Bosnia: A Game of Two Halves

TRAILING by just five goals at half time, Great Britain Men struggled to cope with a strong and relentless Bosnia Herzegovina side and went down fighting 19-44 in the second match of the World Championship qualifying tournament in Finland on Saturday.

Great Britain battled well with a strong line-up on court throughout much of the first half, and at one point trailed by just three.

However, GB went for almost 13 minutes without scoring a goal, while Bosnia rattled seven into the net, and after a raft of around five substitutions, Great Britain were further picked apart with an 11-0 run on goal from a strong Bosnia side.

“It was probably the most contrasting game so far,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “We were great in the first half, and at one point were only three behind and then missed a penalty which would’ve brought us to within two.

“But Bosnia scored seven without reply which really killed the game off for us. We went goal for goal with them for a while, but we never got any closer, and then once we started changing our starting line-up we lost our shape. We ran out of steam and the players looked tired.

“We’re still optimistic of beating Finland tomorrow, having seen them play yesterday, so hopefully we can go out on a high.”

Steven Larsson top-scored for GB with six goals against Bosnia, while John Pearce added three.

Pic: GB top-scorer against Bosnia, Steven Larsson. Pic: Reiner Worm.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Narrow Defeat for GB Men Despite Strong Second Half

A BATTLING performance from Great Britain men was not enough to beat Romania in the opening match of their World Championship qualifying tournament in Finland on Friday evening.

After a stuttering first half which the Romanians won 11-21, Great Britain hit back well after the break and out-scored their opponents 16-15. However, it was not enough to overhaul the deficit and GB ended up losing 27-36.

Sebastian Prieto top-scored for GB with six goals, while Robin Garnham was also impressive and netted four times.

Both GB goalkeepers were in form too, with Bob White saving two from three penalties, while Jesper Parker made 14 saves and finished with a 38 per cent shot save ratio.

“We’re happy with the result,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “But we were still disappointed because we had done a thorough analysis on Romania before we came here, but the first half wasn’t good.

“The lads looked nervous, but after half time they looked a different team and played well, and at one point we fought back to just three down and really had the Romanians on the rack.

“Technical errors let us down once again, but we’ve arrived on the international scene now and we’re learning from every game.”

GB continue their matches at Vantaa with a game against Bosnia Herzegovina on Saturday afternoon.

Pic: GB’s Robin Garnham. (Photo: Roel Custers Sittard).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

GB Show Improvement Against Czech Republic

A STRONG first half performance was the highlight of Great Britain Men’s final match of the Marrane Cup in Paris against the Czech Republic on Sunday.

After a disappointing defeat to Qatar on Saturday, the side upped their game considerably and were just 14-17 down at the break. However, they slumped back into bad habits after half time and ended up losing 22-32.

“It was a better performance than yesterday,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “At half time we were in there and wanted to go on and win the match to prove a point.

“But almost inevitably in the first seven minutes of the second half we went from 14-17 to 14-22 because of a number of technical errors, and it was game over really.

“But it’s not all bad news, there were a number of good performances today, especially from all the goalkeepers, with Jesper Parker and Bob White doing well and our under-21 goalkeeper Nicholas Satchwell also coming on for a time and doing well.”

Right back Steven Larsson scored eight goals and was GB’s top scorer, while line players Chris McDermott and Robin Garnham added four and three respectively.

The squad now return to London for a training camp, and will be aiming to get back on form in time for the World Championship qualifying tournament in Finland from January 15-17.

The Marrane Cup has proved to be a useful exercise for the team, with good experience gained of playing varied types of team from different areas of the world which will prove invaluable to both players and staff.

The team have now played 22 games against international and domestic sides under new head coach Dragan Djukic, and many of the players are now in double figures with their international caps.

Hopes are high that the squad will be back to full strength for the trip to Finland, with Gawain Vincent still suffering with a sprained hand after falling awkwardly on it during the Qatar match.

And John Pearce and Mark Hawkins, who have been playing for short periods as they nurse knee sprains, should be 100 per cent in time for the World Championships.

However, squad captain Ciaran Williams is still doubtful with a stress fracture in his foot causing problems.

Pic: Steven Larsson was GB's top scorer against the Czech Republic with eight goals. (Pic: Reiner Worm).

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Disappointing Defeat to Qatar for GB Men

GREAT Britain men continued their Jekyll and Hyde performances when they suffered a disappointing 26-38 defeat against Qatar in the Marrane Cup in Paris on Saturday.

After a strong showing against African champions Tunisia on Friday, GB were poor against a Qatar side they had hoped to beat.

“I’m very disappointed with our performance,” said head coach Dragan Djukic. “Particularly in the first half because we were ten goals down after 20 minutes and the game was lost already.

“Things were better in the second half, but we have to learn that the game starts at minute zero and finishes at minute 60. We can’t afford to turn off.”

The best players for GB were Chris Mohr with seven goals, while Bob White did well in goal with a 55 per cent save ratio, but Djukic added: “It’s not enough to have one or two who play well, we need the whole team to play together.”

Thomas Barker added five goals and Sebastian Prieto four, but it was not enough to stop GB slumping to defeat, with too many technical faults contributing to their downfall.

Pic: Dragan Djukic was disappointed with his side's defeat to Qatar. (Pic: FOTO Wagner, Switzerland).

Friday, January 08, 2010

GB Men Much-Improved Against Tunisia

HAVING lost by 18 goals to the African champions Tunisia last week, Great Britain men turned in a much-improved performance against the same team in the Marrane Cup in Paris on Friday evening.

Tunisia still won the clash, but this time the gap was only ten goals with GB playing well throughout the 23-33 loss.

“All the lads are well pleased with that,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “We played much better than we did last week and it’s been a real boost to our confidence.”

Having missed the Yellow Cup in Switzerland last week, right back Steven Larsson turned out for GB and proved a real talisman for the team, scoring eight goals and injecting the team with a real belief in their abilities.

“It’s been his first game for three weeks, so he didn’t play the whole game,” added Baillie. “But he oozes confidence, and when we took him off the players were able to keep it together.

“We had a rough patch where Tunisia went from 16-13 to 22-13, but the difference between this game and last week was that we didn’t lose our heads and we battled back well.”

The game also marked an impressive first cap for new-find Phillip Furley, a 27-year-old playmaker who plays for Bammental in Germany.

He made a big impact in both defence and attack, and helped stem the flow of Tunisian goals when GB were under the cosh. Furley ended the match with three goals, as did left back Martin Hare.

In yesterday’s opening match of the tournament Tunisia beat Qatar 34-25, and Baillie added: “We’re going out to beat Qatar tomorrow.

“Having seen their game against Tunisia we’ve compared the stats and we think they’re a similar level to us, so obviously we want to beat them.”

The Qatar game begins at 4pm French time.

Pic: GB's Steven Larsson, who top-scored against Tunisia with eight goals. (Pic: Reiner Worm).

Monday, January 04, 2010

GB Men End Yellow Cup Campaign on a High

GREAT Britain Men completed their Yellow Cup campaign with another defeat on Monday – but they competed well against a world-class Holland side and matched their rivals for long periods before succumbing to a 21-39 defeat.

GB have got stronger as the tournament in Switzerland has gone on, with head coach Dragan Djukic trialling some of his less experienced players and formations.

The GB boys began strongly, and were only 10-16 behind at the break against the Dutch, and although the gap widened afterwards Great Britain still enjoyed some great periods of looked more positive than they have previously, with Jesper Parker outstanding in goal.

The team will now travel to London for a two-day training camp before travelling to France for the Marranne Tournament in Paris, where they will continue an intensive period of games against high-class opposition.

Group matches against Qatar and Tunisia await the Great Britain team, and with the possibility of a final match against Algeria, Djukic is relishing the chance of some more match experience.

“It’s great for us to be playing in the Marranne Tournament – it was an invitation we could not turn down,” he said.

“It is such a big tournament, and it’s great for us to be there as a team, but also for publicity, to let people know that Britain has a good handball team.

“It’s important that we’re playing African teams who play an open style of handball that is different to the European style which we are more used to.

“We have a young team and we must be patient, but at the same time it’s important to give them experience of playing as wide and varied teams as we can.”

After the Marranne Tournament later this week, Djukic and his team will select the squad for the World Championship qualifying tournament in Finland from Jan 15-17, where Great Britain will play Romania, Bosnia Herzegovina and Finland.

Pic: Jesper Parker had another strong performance in goal for Great Britain. (Pic: Reiner Worm).

Sunday, January 03, 2010

GB Men Show Improvement Against African Champions

GREAT Britain men turned in a much-improved performance against African champions Tunisia in the second game of their Yellow Cup campaign in Switzerland on Sunday.

Despite losing 24-42, the GB boys played well for long periods and left many spectators and officials at the popular tournament surprised by the standard of handball on show.
After a disappointing 18-33 defeat to hosts Switzerland in their opening match on Saturday, GB tightened up and looked sharp against Tunisia, who lost out by just one goal to Holland in their opening clash.

Trailing by just 14-21 at the break, GB took their eye off the ball for the final few minutes, but head coach Dragan Djukic said: “I was satisfied with a really great first half, in fact for 45 minutes we were really good.

“But it was the same as against Switzerland, we concentrate and compete for only some of the match. We missed two penalties and two clear chances, and we struggled from then on and couldn’t stop our opponents scoring goals.

“Some of our players don’t play regular handball with clubs, and that’s a problem we have to address.

“But people have been surprised that a British team can play such good handball, so despite losing, we need to remember these are top teams and at the moment it is an honour for us to be playing against them.”

Chris Mohr top-scored for GB with five goals, including three from penalties, while Martin Hare added four and Robin Garnham and Mark Hawkins scored three each.

The final game of the tournament for Great Britain will be against Holland on Monday at 6.30pm.

Pic: GB's top-scorer against Tunisia, Chris Mohr. (Pic: Reiner Worm).

Disappointing Start to Yellow Cup for GB Men

GREAT Britain Men lost out 18-33 to Switzerland in the opening game of their Yellow Cup campaign on Saturday, being beaten by the hosts after a disappointing second half.

GB were only trailing 10-12 after a strong first period and kept pace with their rivals, with Jesper Parker looking strong in goal and the outfield players attacking well.

But a bad 10-minute spell just after play resumed saw them make several technical errors and their poor defence conceded seven goals, and from then on they were always playing catch-up.

Their Yellow Cup campaign continues today, Sunday, with a clash against Tunisia at 1pm. Their opponents will be aiming to secure their first victory of the Cup after losing out narrowly to Holland on Saturday, 33-34.

Following that, GB will take on Holland on Monday at 6.30pm.

Pic: GB goalkeeper Jesper Parker, who had a good first half against Switzerland. (Pic: Dan Rowley, Colorsport).