Takes the help of SOK to top the form in the third match
On Friday, Sweden will play its World Cup premiere in handball.
But it is only on Tuesday that the national team’s World Cup really starts against the Netherlands.
For that match, they are now in top form with the help of SOK’s expert.
– Then we will have Pommac in the thighs, says Tomas Axnér.
Sweden gets a soft start in the handball World Cup when they start against very weak Uzbekistan (Friday) and Puerto Rico (Sunday).
Then the initial group game against the reigning world champions the Netherlands ends.
– That match will be very important for the rest of our tournament, says Linn Blohm.
– That match will determine our fate in the World Cup, says the national team captain Tomas Axnér.
If Sweden wins against the Netherlands (it is 50/50 in advance), they are in the quarterfinals with more than one leg already before the intermediate round. But if there is a loss, you will have to beat the gold favorite, and the old ghost, Norway in the intermediate round.
“Should have Pommac in the thighs”
Axnér does not deny that the team’s focus is already on the Netherlands. There is still no risk of going on a shock loss against the blueberry nations.
Therefore, he will use the two initial matches and the days around them to maximize the form.
The team has managed to dot the form before. In the Olympics, the goal was to be in top physical shape for match two against Russia.
– We talked all summer about having champagne in our legs at the Olympics. Three days before the match against Russia, the players said they still had no foam in their legs. But when we then played the match, they said “Damn, it’s just small”. It was Richard Nilsson’s job that was behind it and it was magical how that top of form sat, says Axnér.
Nilsson is SOK’s physics manager and he now helps the team as well.
– I have had contact with Richard to get a microform top against the Netherlands, maybe not with champagne in the thighs but with Pommac in any case, says Axnér.
– I even think that we can train a handball session on match days (against Uzbekistan and Puerto Rico) with a focus on later matches and of course we would not have done that during a European Championship.
Dark tactical moves
In the Olympics, Axnér started with basically the same line-up in every single match and then matched it hard. It will be different in the World Cup considering the pale opposition in the beginning.
– Everyone should be able to come in and feel that they are in the World Cup. We do not intend to let anyone run to their deaths against these teams, especially not because we have players who need power left in the future. We could not afford it in the Olympics but we have it now and then we have to be a little cynical.
You also get dark tactical moves to more important matches.
– Of course there are secrets. We do not need to launch anything now to avoid “sunbathing” of course.
The big star Jamina Roberts warns of Sweden’s easy schedule in the beginning.
– It’s nice in a way to have teams like this in the beginning that you know you have to win over. But at the same time it is dangerous because you can get a false sense of security: “yes, we won and scored 40 goals”. But what does it really say?
Date: 1–19 december 2021
Host country: Spain
Venues: Castellón, Granollers, Lliria, Torrevieja
Format: Eight groups of four teams, the three best in each group go to the main round, there are four groups of six teams. Groups A and B merge and play the main round in Granollers, C and D in Castellon, E and F in Granollers and G and H in Torrevieja. The two best in each group in the main round go to the quarterfinals. All quarterfinals, semifinals, bronze match and final are played in Granollers.
Sweden’s group stage matches
Friday, December 3: Uzbekistan in Torrevieja (20.30)
Sunday 5 December: Puerto Rico in Torrevieja (15.30)
Tuesday 7 December: The Netherlands in Torrevieja (20.30)
The World Cup groups
Group A: France, Montenegro, Angola, Slovenia
Group B: Teams of the Russian Handball Federation, Serbia, Cameroon, Poland
Group C: Norway, Romania, Kazakhstan, Iran
Group D: Netherlands, Sweden, Puerto Rico, Uzbekistan
Group E: Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia
Group F: Denmark, South Korea, Tunisia, Congo-Brazzaville
Group G: Croatia, Japan, Brazil, Paraguay
Group H: Spain, Austria, Argentina, China
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Axnér: “That match decides our fate in the World Cup”