Great Britain Men’s Update

This past December and January the Great Britain (GB) Men’s team played 13 matches against club and national teams in 4 different events. The culmination of the tour was an official World Championship qualifying tournament in Finland. GB lost all 13 matches, but showed significant progress through nearly a month of practice and serious competition. GB also did not have their full complement of players for some of the matches and lost their team Captain and Center Back, Ciaran Williams, to injury in the first tournament.

In June, the GB men will have the opportunity to host their first international tournament as they will host Estonia, Cyprus and Bulgaria in the first round of qualification for the 2012 European Championships. The winner of this tournament will advance to the second round of qualification where they will play home and away matches against the top teams in Europe.

The British Federation website has a trove of information on their trip including video interviews with their coach, Dragan Djukic, their performance director, Lorraine Brown and players at the qualifiers in Finland. Additionally, BBC did a video report on the event as well.

Commentary: The bottom line results are fairly stark as GB lost all 13 matches and they clearly have a long way to go towards their goal of being competitive at the 2012 Olympics. The margins of defeat varied from 3 goals against one of the weaker club sides in Norway’s top league to a 25 point drubbing by Bosnia & Herzegovina. Still even in a massive loss like the one against Bosnia there are signs of progress as the margin was a more respectable 17-12 at the halftime break. In their interviews the coach and director, acknowledge the shortcomings and the long road ahead. Compared to the women’s team, the men’s team is currently a notch or two behind in terms of where they stand relative to the rest of Europe. The next big test will be the qualification tournament in June. As host, they should have a good performance. The other sides are all part of Europe’s lowest tier of handball and qualifying will show a marked sign of progress.

British Federation website:
GB Federation (31 Jan 10): GB to Host Euro 2012 Matches:
Huw Goodwin Blog (26 Jan 10): Lessons learned…:
VIDEO: BBC Sport (17 Jan 10) Great Britain handballers edged out by Finland:

Match Results:

Limburgse Handbaldagen Tournament (Netherlands):
27 Dec: K Sports (KOR/JAP) – GBR 29-20 (17-10)
27 Dec: Vos Invesments Lions (NLD) – GBR 39-23 (17-11) (Currently 4th in Netherlands league (10-2-5))
28 Dec: Põlva Serviti (EST) – GBR 36-26 (17-11) (Currently 1st in top Estonian league)
29 Dec: Haugaland HK (NOR) – GBR 29-26 (Currently in 11th place (2-1-9) in top Norwegian League)

Yellow Cup (Winterthur, Switzerland):
2 Jan: Switzerland – GBR 33-18 (12-10)
3 Jan: Tunisia – GBR 42-24 (21-14)
4 Jan: Netherlands – GBR 39-21 (16-10)
VIDEO: Swiss news report on GBR- Switzerland match: British coach, Dragan Djukic, is a former coach of the Swiss National Team:

Le Marrane Tournament (France)
8 Jan: Tunisia – GBR 33 – 23 (16-11)
9 Jan: Qatar – GBR 38-26 (20-10)
10 Jan: Czech Republic 32-22 (17-14)

2011 WC Qualifying Group Play:
15 Jan: Romania – GBR 36-27 (23-11)
16 Jan: Bosnia & Herzegovina – GBR 44-19 (17-12)
17 Jan: Finland – GBR 35-21 (17-13)