Richardsson handed big challenge at Saudi Arabia men's national team

22 Aug. 2023

Richardsson handed big challenge at Saudi Arabia men's national team

The Saudi Arabia Handball Federation have announced the appointment of Icelandic coach Erlingur Birgir Richardsson as the head coach of the Saudi Arabia men’s senior national team, who will be replacing Jan Pytlick, who led the Asian side at the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship.

The 50-year-old coach, who will take over the Asian team, will be at his third stint as a national team coach, after having being an assistant coach for the Iceland men’s national team between 2012 and 2013 and the head coach of the Netherlands men’s national team between 2017 and 2022, but also several clubs in Iceland and Europe.

Richardsson, a former line player, who has played throughout his whole career in Iceland, has a big experience as a coach, first taking over the women’s teams at Valur Reykjavik and IB Vestmannaeyja. The 50-year-old coach then had two stints at HK Kopavogur, before being an assistant coach for the Iceland men’s senior team.

After one year, he returned to coaching club teams, first at Austrian side SG Handball West Wien, before moving to Germany, in the Bundesliga, where he took over powerhouse Füchse Berlin. With the German side, he also snatched the biggest trophy in his career, securing the title at the 2016 IHF Men’s Super Globe, in a fiery final against Paris Saint-Germain Handball, 29:28.

After moving back to coaching a national team, Richardsson found success with the Netherlands, qualifying for the first time at the EHF EURO in 2020 and doubling down on that performance in 2022, with the European side finishing on the 17th and 10th places in the European competition.

This will also be the first experience outside Europe for the Icelandic coach, who has came back to his country to lead IB Vestmannaeyja, the team which he played for 12 seasons.

Richardsson strengthens the European contingent of coaches in Asia, being the second Icelandic coach after Aron Kristjansson in the Gulf, with Kristjansson being Bahrain’s coach since 2021.

The Icelandic coach will aim to lead the Saudi side to a maiden berth at the Olympic Games, with the Asian men's Olympic Qualification Tournament taking place in Doha between 18 and 28 October, but also at the AHF Men’s Asian Handball Championship, due to take place in Bahrain between 14 and 25 January 2024.