Post-match flash quotes: main round group I, 18 January

Post-match flash quotes: main round group I, 18 January

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EHF / Kevin Domas

COLOGNE - Comments from Germany head coach Alfred Gislason (ISL), right back Kai Häfner (GER) and left wing Lukas Mertens (GER), and Iceland head coach Snorri Stein Guðjónsson (ISL), right wing Bjarki Mar Elisson (ISL) and centre back Janus Smarason (ISL); France head coach Guillaume Gille (FRA), left back Nikola Karabatic (FRA), line player Ludovic Fabregas (FRA) and right wing Yannis Lenne (FRA), and Croatia head coach Goran Perkovac (CRO) and left back Zvonimir Srna (CRO); Hungary head coach Chema Rodriguez (ESP) and line players Adrián Sipos and Bence Bánhidi, and Austria head coach Ales Pajovic (SLO) and right back Boris Zivkovic (AUT) and goalkeeper Constantin Möstl (AUT) after Austria beat Hungary 30:29, France beat Croatia 34:32 and Germany beat Iceland 26:24 at the LANXESS arena on Thursday.


Alfred Gislason (ISL) – head coach, Germany

On the match:
“It was a very hard game. Both teams played very well. Iceland played very well in defence and attack within the goalkeepers. We had little problems especially in attack in the first half. I thought that we were playing too slow and not winning the one-against-one. The defence was good and Andy [Wolff] played a fantastic game.

“In the second half we came into lead of one or two goals with a lot better attack and defence was still OK. In the end it was a fantastic handball game. I could go into both directions. We got two seven-metre penalties. At the end we were very lucky that Andy could save these two seven-metres. It was a great victory and it brought a lot to the team.”

On his family wearing Icelandic jerseys:
“I talked to my brother and my father yesterday and they said: “We have always been supporting you in the Icelandic national team and afterwards the Icelandic national team for 20 years. We cannot sit in the crowd of Icelandic fans and wear your German shirt.”

Kai Häfner (GER) - right back

On the game:
“The feeling right now is amazing, of course. It was far from our best game, we had a lot of offensive problems against the Icelandic defence. But our defence was really good as well, with Andreas Wolff delivering an amazing game. I think he really was key for us tonight.”

On the other key element that helped Germany win the game:
“We did not play good, but we fought the whole time. We really remained together while Iceland were pushing and that definitely was the key. Being a team and not just a sum of individuals has been a strength since the beginning of the tournament and it was again tonight.”

On becoming a father during the tournament:
“It gives me a lot of extra motivation, of course. Becoming a dad is the biggest thing ever. And thanks to my wife, I can be here and help the team. Now, I’ve told myself that we have to win a medal at the EURO as a gift back.”

On Germany taking their first points in the main round:
“It’s important not to let the other teams break away in the standings. We have to keep them in contact because we saw that France, for example, were not going to let any point go through that main round. We still have three more games to play, the goal is to win them all and if we do, we might have an option to qualify. But it is very far from tonight.”

Lukas Mertens (GER) - left wing

On the game:
“Iceland were one very, very tough opponent and that was one of the hardest matches we played recently. Sure, we did not play our best handball, our offence really had some problems, but we managed to stay tight in the defence. It was important because they have players that are able to change the face of the game almost by themselves. We gave them a lot of problems, but so did they.”

On Andreas Wolff’s performance:
“Really impressive, he basically kept our head out of the water in the second half. But it is not only him, even though he was amazing. It was really a great teamwork, our defence helped him a lot. But I have to say that it was only down to himself when he stopped those seven-metres. He showed tonight why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”

On the atmosphere:
“We were not expecting less from the people in Cologne, really. They were impressively loud and of course, when you play in front of 20,000 people, it gives you an extra boost of energy in those tight games. You do everything a little bit more when the fans push you so hard.”

Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson (ISL) – head coach, Iceland

On the match
“It was a good game for us. The best performance in the tournament for us, but of course we are disappointed about the end of this game. I think both teams played very good defence in the first half.”

On why they lost:
“It is difficult to analyse the game right after the match. But we had problems with Andreas Wolff who played a fantastic game, took few penalties and a lot of chances from us. Sadly it is our story in this tournament but the spirit and how my players came together after the game is something we can use in the next three games. It was not what I wanted but we will keep fighting.”

Bjarki Mar Elisson (ISL) - right wing

On the game:
“We played quite good and losing that game is a huge disappointment. I think what made the difference was the goalkeeper, as Andreas Wolff was simply amazing in the second half. It all came down to one goal, one missed shot even though I felt we had done everything to win the game.”

On their chances of progressing to the semi-finals:
“It’s hard to think about it right now. I don’t want to, actually. All I know is that we have to win the games, and up until now, we were undefeated. With the strange results we have seen since the beginning of the EURO, we still have to hope as things are not over yet.”

Janus Smarason (ISL) - centre back

On the game:
“It’s been a huge fight, we had to battle for every ball. In the end, I must admit that Andy Wolff was surreal with all his saves. He clearly made the difference in the last minutes. It’s frustrating because we are never far away, they did not clearly have the upper hand but still, they win in the end.”

On the game being a very defensive one:
“The goalkeepers and the defences were in the spotlight tonight. We had to fight to score goals, I don’t think we scored any easy one. Every game since the beginning of this EURO has been a tough one, and I don’t expect anything less from the next ones.”


Guillaume Gille (FRA) – head coach, France

On the win:
“It was not easy to find a way to success. So I am happy about that main round win. We knew that each game will be a terrible fight as it was tonight.

“I am very proud of what my players were able to do in such an intensive situation. It was also a key point that we have a team with lot of possibilities to make rotations. I feel that we were a little bit more present than the Croatian players were but the win was just because of little things.”

Nikola Karabatic (FRA) – left back

On becoming the all-time top scorer of the Men’s EHF EURO:
“I'm very happy to get the record. But my career is also about the assists and the defences I made. This last season has been more about how I enjoy the game than just playing for the records and the titles I have been chasing all my life. I want to thank everyone around, even more my mum who called me a couple of days ago to tell me that I should get the record."

Ludovic Fabregas (FRA) – line player

On his red card:
“Of course, it was different from me watching the end of the game from the stands, but I kept pushing as hard as I could. I’m happy we managed to win and that my red card was not an inconvenient for my teammates.”

On the game:
“We expected a tough game, and this is exactly what we had. Croatia were very strong, their goalkeeper caused us a lot of problems and it was all decided only in the last minutes. We take the two points, we keep on moving in this tournament and this is the most important. Maybe tonight was not the most perfect game but sometimes you have to be happy with the points.”

On Nikola Karabatic taking the EHF EURO goal-scoring record:
“He is such an amazing player, to be honest, I don’t know what to say or to write anymore. His longevity has been the key for him and that probably explains why he has all these records. Physically, he pulled us again in the beginning of the game, he took the lead as he always does. I can only congratulate him, really.”

Yanis Lenne (FRA) – right wing

On his performance:
“I’m happy with it as I really did not play well against Germany. It is tough to find your rhythm when you come back after an injury. I feel like my competition started tonight.”

On the game:
“We were afraid at some point as we did not manage to shake off their resistance, but we relied on our strong points, which are our defence and our goalkeepers. They struggled to find solutions in the second part of the second half and we got away with the win. I don’t expect an easier game in two days, as there are only strong teams in this main round.”

Goran Perkovac (CRO) – head coach, Croatia

On the defeat:
“I am proud of my team because we fought with a lot of heart and it was a tough game. We have a young team and the most of the players can play the next 10 years. And this will be our chance in the future.”

On their performance:
“Today I don’t think that we were a team which was not so good, less good than the French team. We are on the same level but the experience in the French team made it and they punished our mistakes, our stupid mistakes when we threw the ball into their hands.

“The most stupid situation was at the score of 27:26, we were twice with two players more and lost the ball and the French players scored into empty goal. This was the decision of this game.”

Zvonimir Srna (CRO) – left back

On the game:
"I think we played really well, as we scored 32 goals against France, which is not bad. Only the last five minutes we might regret, but overall, we played face to face with one of the best teams in the world, it's a shame we were not able to take the points."

On starting the main round with a defeat:
"It's not the best way but, in the meantime, we know we still have three games to go and that everything is still open. We have to switch quickly to the next game so we can get the machine going again."


Chema Rodriguez (ESP) – head coach, Hungary

On the defeat:
“We knew before we came here that this would be a difficult match. Austria is here because they beat Spain.

“First half we had problem with the seven against six, after the first half we could defend a little bit better but we had more problems with the attack. The first half, we attacked well but in the second half we had more and more problems.

“My guys tried to win this match but in the last five minutes when the match was decided, we did not play well. And Austria did it.”

On moving forward:
“If we win, there are five minutes to celebrate then going for the next match. If we lose, it is the same, right? To be five minutes down but then focus on the next match.”

Adrián Sipos (HUN) – line player

On the game:
“We made a few mistakes, especially in defence, and it costs us the game. We feel like we played good offensively, but they scored too many goals. We not able to stop them, and it’s hard to win a game when the opponent scores 30 goals.”

On the seven-against-six play from Austria:
“We did not have so much time to adapt, even though we knew they would play like this. We prepared, but obviously it was not enough. This is what is frustrating, because we knew what they would use as tactics, but we were not able to stop them.”

On the competition for Hungary so far:
“We have been doing great but we wanted to keep going before coming here. Sadly, that did not happen. Now, not everything is lost, we have to keep pushing and hope that we can win some other games.”

Bence Bánhidi (HUN) – line player

On the game:
“We were never able to really stop them, they played a lot of seven against six and they could score easy goals. We missed a couple of opportunities, of course, but they scored too much. We are disappointed but we have to keep our heads high as the next game is only in two days.”

On why they lost:
“Defence, I think. It was good in the first part of the game but we struggled more as soon as they decided to play with seven players. This is hard to find a solution in that case. And of course, when the game is tight, it comes down to details and tonight, they were in their favour.”

Ales Pajovic (SLO) – head coach, Austria

On the win:
“I am very happy because after the three games in the group, I was a little bit afraid that we are tired. But like I said, we are little bit on fire now.

We had a lot of problems in the first half. Our keepers were not so good, I think they were too afraid not be able to save. But we wanted to fight in the second half.

“The second half was much better and the goalkeeper [Constantin Möstl] was very good. We won some duels with Michi [Michael Miskovez]. My guys believed that we can win, that was important.

“It was the third game when the last 15 or 10 minutes were so crazy. I am just happy that we had a little bit more luck than Hungary.

Boris Zivkovic (AUT) – right back

 On the game:
“It’s unbelievable, we won again. Before the competition, we did not think we would come this far, so now it is bonus for us. We want to keep going and when you win games like this one, you can only dream big.

“In two days, the game against Germany will be different, in front of their home crowd, it will be very difficult. But everybody tells us that the next game will be difficult, but we still manage to get results.”

On the secret for the Austria team:
“We just enjoy playing together and once the results come, things are easier. There is a real chemistry between, we are really fighting for our friends and that’s the secret, basically.”

On seven-against-six being the secret weapon for Austria:
“We have no choice because we don’t have a lot of rotations. We played it in the last game and it worked, so we thought we might do it again. Thankfully, it worked again.

“But we don’t want to be only the team with seven players. We also play very good handball, we have talented players. You can play with seven players, but if you don’t fight and don’t have talent, that would be useless.”

Constantin Möstl (AUT) - goalkeeper

On Austria’s current dynamic:
“It’s great, a very positive wave. I guess that helps us not panicking and making the most of every opportunity. It’s great when you feel like that, it is a very positive circle and I hope we can get it going for the next few games.”

On the Player of the Match award:
“I made saves but, overall, we defended pretty well. They have powerful shooters, a very talented team, but we worked really well together. This award is not only for me, but also for my teammates.”

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