Egypt: Gold/Silver Medal - In Quotes

31 Jan. 2021

Egypt: Gold/Silver Medal - In Quotes

After Denmark beat Sweden 26:24 (13:13) in the gold medal match of the 2021 IHF Men’s World Championship in Egypt 2021, the players and coaches spoke to the media.

Lasse Svan – player, Denmark

Mixed Zone What’s it feel like to have that medal around your neck?

It feels very, very good. Very satisfying. It really is an unbelievable feeling to win a championship and it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, to stand on top of the podium is what we all want as a player, it feels really good. As a professional player you make sacrifices anyway like being away from home all the time. This competition has been played during COVID and you have been in a bubble for a long time, does this make it a different kind of sacrifice?

We talked about it after the semi-finals that we as Denmark are a handball nation and there are so many people that are watching us play. Many people are struggling right now because of the lockdown and this gives them a lot of joy. I don’t know how many people watched the game today, but I know it will be a lot. You were leading by three going into the last 10 minutes, did you feel then that you were already on your way to victory?

A minute before the game ended, we had the ball and we were leading by three goals, I think. Then I could allow myself to do it, but not before. Niklas [Landin] was amazing in goal and at the end we had the feeling that they couldn’t score, and I think they also had the feeling they couldn’t score. 

Of course, that’s huge boost for our team but in Denmark we have a saying ‘we’re not selling the skin before the bear’s shot'. Does this feeling of winning a championship ever get old?

It really doesn’t [get old]. In 2019 it was something special. We had 15,000 Danes in the arena to celebrate as we lifted the trophy and, today, we had no spectators and that of course [in itself] is something special.

But deep within, everybody knows, and we have a lot of new guys in the team that weren’t there in 2019, to call yourself a world champion is something really special. Obviously, some of us were there in 2019, but all the guys that didn’t try it back then can call themselves that now and it’s never going away, they will be world champions forever and that is really something special, it really is. Mikkel Hansen was the Egypt 2021 MVP, what can you say about him that has not already been said? What’s he like in the locker room before games? Does he shout and encourage?

He’s not loud about it but you obviously have your star players and every team that is winning has their star players and we have a few so we have been very lucky. When you are new you look at the ones who have been there for so many years and Mikkel has won everything with the national team. 

Of course, we are looking at him and if he’s there and you have the feeling he is motivated, he’s ready to give it all, you get sucked in and you are ready to give it all as well, because you won’t want to let him down and you hope he is doing the best he can. And what he did in the semi-finals and what he did today is why we love him and why he shows he is so good. We understand you received a telephone call from Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark after the game, how does that make you feel?

Obviously, it shows the support. The Crown Prince has always done that, he’s always shown support for us and of course it means a lot. It’s the Royal Family. He congratulated us on the win and was very happy for us and very happy for the whole country. Where do you put all the medals you win, and do you look at them from time-to-time?

I keep them safe. Every now and then I look at them.

Mathias Gidsel – player, Denmark

Mixed Zone What’s that around your neck?

That's evidence that we are world champions for a second time in a row. Amazing. It’s been an amazing month for the whole team and for me personally so what a dream. You saw ‘we’ won for the second time, but this is your first world championship, you’re not only a player, but a supporter, a fan too?

Two years ago I sat in Herning and watched those guys went in and had a dream that could maybe be me in 10 years and after two years I'm standing here with the medal about my neck. It’s an adventure. Can't believe it. I can't describe how proud I am of the boys. Was there a moment in the game when you thought you were close to the win or were just thinking ‘it’s 60 minutes’?

I thought it was a tough match against the whole team, neither team played especially well handball. We just focussed on working hard and it was enough. You’ve won gold in your first championship; does this propel you forward to want to win more?

I’m more than ever motivated to come home and try to do it again.

Jim Gottfridsson - player, Sweden

Mixed Zone How are you feeling now? You lost the final, but got silver?

It's very hard. We do very good at first half, second half we were not so good. We miss so many shots against Niklas Landin who was wonderful today. He is one of the best and we have a problem with Mikkel [Hansen] when he played right back and Jakob Holm and we couldn’t get any counter-attacks when wanted, but that's the game: sometimes you win sometimes you lose. Today it was very hard. Even in this moment of disappointment you must be proud of your team?

I’m very proud, you look at this team. It’s so many players have played a tournament before. I think we 12 news one and I’m very, very proud of the guys but, you know, when you go through a tournament with one loss, it’s not so nice [to lose], but I think in the next week, two weeks it will feel a little bit better. It might be a small consolation, but yourself Hampus Wanne and Andreas Palicka are in the All-star Team. Does that show the quality you have?

I didn’t know before you told me that, so thank you. It's a very big thing for us, three players, but now you want to have a gold medal, but, of course, I'm also very, very satisfied with that. At the end of the day, sport is about winning medals, you got a medal and maybe you can take that silver and it gives you that extra fire to go one better next time?

Last time we lost a European Championship against Spain. Now we lost against Denmark. I think it was also good for this team to be in finals but, you know, as a sportsperson, you only want to win gold, you don't want to have silver. So, next time we want to have the gold medal.

Henrik Mollgaard – player, Denmark

Mixed Zone You have won so many medals, so is this just another medal or is it special?

It's never just another medal, because there's so many teams that could have won this and we were facing elimination against Egypt [in the quarter-final], several times. And that, right now, that that's the match that defines our world championship because it's so marginal who was going to win it. We were down and we were down again, and we had the chance. We could easily have gone home on Thursday, but now we have won the gold. That Egypt victory gave you the motivation to win gold?

Obviously. We played the main round and middle round, and we were almost perfect, but against Egypt we were facing a lot of troubles, and we were lucky to go through. That gave us a lot of confidence, a big boost before the semi-final and we used that. So, I'm pretty sure that that was key to our success, and hopefully we can use that experience for the next championship, because we were almost out. Compared to the Egypt game, could you allow yourself to start cheering before the end of the final as you were clear?

Yeah, because against Egypt it was way different. Yeah, we kept screwing up and so did they. Today was different the match against Egypt was maybe one game of a lifetime. We have a lot of players who tried a lot of things, in different leagues but this was something we're going to talk about in Denmark for several decades. Mathias Gidsel is in the All-star Team, what’s it been like to work with him?

He has made huge improvements and developed so fast last year and a half. Actually, he's too light and he's too small to play on the level he does, but his mind is so quick, and he reads the game very well. He's been a big boost for our team because he bring so much speed, he brings so much innovation. I've been very impressed because it's not easy being 21 and have to carry a team like Denmark on your shoulders. What have you learnt about yourself during Egypt 2021? Have you surprised yourself with anything?

No, it's been it's been business as usual. We really miss the fans because this is an amazing arena. Sadly, we’re getting used to playing without any spectators. But we really missed him. Because when we played at home in Herning [in 2019] that was special. It would have been special for Egypt and special for us to play in this amazing arena [with fans]. So, no it's been business as usual but also, it’s been very different because playing a championship without spectators, hopefully it’s the last time. Is there one memory off court here in Egypt 2021 you can take with you?

We really came together as a team. I think we failed exactly that in 2020 when we went to Sweden [for the European Championship]. We didn't perform as a team, outside the court. And we really did this time we had a lot of talk about how we how we're going to survive three weeks on the same floor. 

But we really came through. And, luckily, our new young guys they really stepped up as well. So, yeah, that has been a great experience because it's not that easy living in a bubble for a long time.

Glenn Solberg – coach, Sweden

Media Conference Opening Statement

It’s disappointment, of course, after the final. I think we played a good game, a great game both in defence and attack the whole game. I think Denmark wasn’t sure. We had it in our hands. The last 10-15 minutes, Mr Landin saved a lot of our shots and I think that was the difference today.

But after all I am proud of the team, how they played this tournament. Very proud. We showed our best side and showed fantastic handball in every game. Even though this is a sad moment for you, it is a positive moment for you. You set the handball world alight with your play and new players. How excited are you going forward with this team, three of whom are in the All-star Team?

It’s not my happiest moment. t's true what you say I'm really, really proud of the team. And we have been playing fantastic handball the whole world championship.

What’s important now is to tell the guys, the young guys and everybody that this is the start of something. I really believe in the team and players. I think if we work hard for two, three, four years we will also stand at the top of the podium.

This is only the start. This team has a great future with great players and good people. We will work hard for the next two, three, four years and in time we will stand at the top of the podium. That’s our dream.

Max Darj – player, Sweden

Media Conference Opening Statement

First of all, congratulations to Denmark. They deserve to win today I think they were a little bit better today. We keep fighting the whole game and then at the end we're not good enough. 

As Glenn said Mr Landin was pretty good in the end there and we were not good enough to do the goals we wanted to do. They played really good and long their defence, and then they find some good good shots there [in attack] and we couldn't manage to win today and we're really disappointed. Jim Gottfridsson said earlier this can give you the motivation to go one better next time. Do you think this? The next one is in Sweden (and Poland) and hopefully with fans.

Yeah, of course. This was a little bit of a new start for us this tournament with a new coach and some new players and so, so we didn't know where we were standing.

We showed off that we can play some really good handball and we have something to build on. And it's really, really hard to lose the final. It's hard to say now but somewhere we have to come back. 

When we are here, we always want to win every game. [2023] it's a long time until we are there but of course we look forward to playing at home. Not everybody gets a chance to play a tournament at home in Sweden in their home country, so will be an amazing opportunity for us to show the Swedish people some good handball.

Are you happy with the overall performance of your team during the championship? Is it a surprise you are second?

We didn't know where we were standing in our level – are we good or are we bad – before we came here.

I'm really proud of the team and of the leadership and everybody around the team because we did a great journey, of course. It's hard to say now that I'm happy but in a few days, in a few weeks, in a few months, we can look back at this and say this is the start of something that we can build on. 

From that, we just want to go in to play better and better and then we see where we can go. Everybody always wants to win, but we will come back, and we will be more hungry next time and hopefully we can play as good as we did this year.

Nikolaj Jakobsen – coach, Denmark

Media Conference Opening Statement

What can I say? We are very happy at this moment. We're defending world champion. That was a huge goal for us. We knew it would be difficult in a tournament like this, you have to perform well, and I think we did that over nine games. 

We had that little bit of luck, that you also need to go all the way. Today we played in defence very good. In those 60 minutes it was difficult for Sweden to make goals, but in attack we had some problems, especially at the beginning of the second half. Then we changed, so Mikkel Hansen came on at right back and we got Jacob Holm, and he made four really important goals for us.

Nikolaj Oris [Nielsen] came in, in the first half, also in the second half and made very important goals. I think the change to 5-1 in defence was a key. And then of course, when you have a goalkeeper like Niklas Landin who shuts down at the end of the match it's always easier to play handball. 

We had an incredible goalkeeper today and that was also a huge part of the victory against a very good Swedish team who played very well and played amazing handball also in this tournament, but of course we are very, very happy that we have the gold medal with us to Denmark.

How does it feel to be back-to-back world champions and what are your plans for Tokyo 2020?

It feels amazing. I think we have written a part of history today. There are not that many teams who have managed to get back-to-back world championships. so, we are very proud. Now, now I'm just tired and empty, and I don't want to think about the Olympic Games at this moment. Right now, I honestly want to get on the bus and go back to the hotel and celebrate with my players. 19 games unbeaten in world championships and you are breaking records everywhere. How does it make you feel that you are creating history?

It makes me very proud that we have played two world championships, without any losses, of course, that's a huge accomplishment of our team, the players have played very well. 

As a group, outside the field, it has been amazing to see how this team from the first day to the last day has been growing together. Today it wasn't as easy as in other games so today we had to fight for the victory, and maybe not play the best handball, but we find [the win] and that's also a big quality to have in the team so that that makes me proud that we can also fight and not only play good handball. Matias Gidsel won an All-star Team award in his first championship. What’s he brought to your team?

He’s brought very much. He’s brought speed, cleverness, and he's a very good player tactically. As we saw today, he can also play the right wing and we then have other opportunities with him on the right wing. 

His defence has, in many games, has been very good. When it gets very physical it's tough for him other than that he's done a great job he's giving us so much speed. Outside the field he's just a happy boy – he’s not a man – who gives a lot of joy in this team. So, he's done a tremendous job and got our team much better.

Henrik Mollgaard – player, Denmark

Media Conference Opening Statement

We are very happy that we won today, we played an amazing tournament. We knew it would be very difficult against a Swedish team that that we know very well. A lot of us play together in several clubs. It was as difficult as we knew was going to be. It was lucky that we got Landin, because in the last 10 minutes he was better than everybody else in this tournament. That was amazing. 

After three long weeks, we can happily say that we now won the world championship twice and that was we came for.

Has the expansion to 32 teams made the world championship better or not?

That's difficult to say, because I also believe that our sport has to develop and grow. 32 teams is the obvious way to develop that. I think that this tournament also shows that it is possible to bring some new some new countries that that can do something different to the usual European teams that plays, in the most part, the same way. So, I don't think that that 32 teams is a bad decision, I actually think that this can help us to grow even more.

Can this generation of Danish players win gold at the Olympic Games?

We want to win every tournament, but it's not that easy. There's a lot of great teams. We were a little lucky this time to because actually we could have been home on Thursday when we faced Egypt. We were a little lucky then, but we got a boost and were then more confident when we when we reached the semi-finals. 

We could have been 5-8 placement instead of sitting with the gold medal now so it's not that easy but if we're really talented and clever, then, hopefully we can build a dynasty like France did some years ago.