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2019 Men’s World Championship 2019 Men’s World Championship
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Date: 8/9/2018

A gold medal eludes Norway at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship after the European side claimed silver in 2010 and bronze in 2012. 

A fourth-placed finish, last time around in 2016 was followed last year by a silver at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2017 and after their opening group C win, against China 36:25 (22:14) at Poland 2018, Norway’s head coach Knut Ove Joa and captain Kristina Novak told IHF.info they are looking forward to a successful stay in Kielce.

IHF.info: After all the preparation, how did you feel to finally get on court and play competitively?

Knut Ove Joa: We’ve were waiting for it and it was a good experience. We didn’t know anything about China, so the players were a little bit worried, but it didn’t worry me as a coach as our main focus was on ourselves. How we prepared for, and played in, the game was important.

After a few minutes we could see more of how China played handball so then we could start acting how we wanted to work with our game.

Kristina Novak: I was shaking [when I heard the Norwegian national anthem], but it was great to finally start this tournament, we had a great match and it was really fun to start. It felt great and I think we had control generally.

IHF.info: Were you nervous at all?

Kristina Novak: We were nervous, absolutely, we have waited and trained for this for a whole year and I was nervous of course. 

Knut Ove Joa: I think it’s normal, it’s the first game in a world championship, but as long as we didn’t use too much time being nervous it was OK - it’s supposed to be like that. If you aren’t worried or nervous in the first few minutes, then I don’t think you care enough about the sport.

IHF.info: How about the game itself, did you enjoy it? What did you do well and not well?

Knut Ove Joa: Most of the game we had a high discipline in attack and counter-attack and we want to work more with that so that was good. Our defence was not good enough in the first half and the last 5-6 minutes it was OK, but it takes time.

I think we should have held China down more and not conceded so many goals in our defence, but for the game as whole it was OK. We want to use more intensity and power because of our physique, but we didn’t get it right against China, so that’s how we’re getting to get it to work in the next game.

Kristina Novak: We have to hold our game together for two-times 30 minutes. We got to use our whole team but it’s the first game, so we were all nervous and it was all about getting a result. China are more offensive than teams from Europe, but we played against Korea (in a friendly) last week so it was a lot of the same things, although Korea were even more offensive [than China], so we were prepared but it was different than usual.

IHF.info: Tell us about the different tactics you used in the game, you changed around the defence and attack at times including the ‘traditional’ Norwegian 6-0 formation and the extra player in attack, as well as utilising the depth on your bench…

Knut Ove Joa: It was just how the game developed. We have some thoughts about going forward and not just playing 6-0. Also, in the second half we played 7v6 as we want to practise this because we know sometimes we can meet defences that will be playing much higher up than China did, so it’s a good experience for us to train for these things when the match picture is like it is.

Kristina Novak: The rotation of players is very important obviously and we have strength, because we can all sit on the bench and we know when we are there that our players on court are doing the best they can. 

IHF.info: A world championship brings new styles to you to experience from across the globe, do you enjoy playing against the different continental teams?

Kristina Novak: It’s fun but the most important thing is that we won the game and that the team did the best they can.

Knut Ove Joa: It’s always exciting to see the other nations and how they play handball, we met Korea in Sweden last week and it’s a good experience for our players to meet these kind of teams and how they play handball because they play different to what we do. As a coach it helps me develop too. The playing style is not the same we play in Norway, so I can hope we can learn from them and they can learn from us.

IHF.info: After the rest day (yesterday) you face Netherlands, how well do you know them?

Kristina Novak: We played them once, earlier this year and lost by one, but we will do the same as usual to prepare.

Knut Ove Joa: We know something about them, we had one game against them in Hungary in February (Knut was not coach then) and we have one game at Poland 2018 to watch them before we play them so we’re going to see the games together and see how they play handball.

Actually, with the China result it is a good way to get this tournament started and the rest day allows us to stat preparing for the Netherlands against whom we can start using some tactical movements which will be good for us.