Succeeding two successful coaches such as Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren is a challenge in itself, however the first days at the helm of the Swedish men’s national team have been even rockier than expected for head coach Kristján Andrésson.
The 35-year-old, who was introduced on 13 September, had to face the news that after the 2016 Rio Olympics experienced key players such as goalkeeper Mattias Andersson, defence expert Tobias Karlsson, right back Kim Andersson and left wing Fredrik Petersen have left the team.
But: Andrésson does not regret his decision. “For me, it is the greatest job you can get in Swedish handball, but obviously also the biggest challenge.
“However, I’m still very proud and happy that I was offered the job, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming challenges,” says Icelandic Andrésson who was born in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna where he played for Guif as a line player before starting to coach the team.
“The four players who left the national team are very good and experienced players, and of course, it is a loss that they are no longer with us.
“However, this gives the chance to some young and talented players of which there are many in Swedish handball, and I’m sure they will be able to fill the gaps which the experienced players left.”
Match after match leaves no time
On the other side, Andrésson acknowledges that there is not much time to integrate and develop young players as test matches are rare with the majority of games being competitive.
This applies even more to the near future when Sweden play their first EHF EURO 2018 qualifiers against Montenegro on 3 and against Slovakia and 5 November. Only two months later the World Championship throws off in France.
“You are expected to win every time you play, and I’m sure our young players know that, too. However, we still have some experienced players in our team.
“I only have to mention Jonas Källman, Niklas Ekberg, Johan Jakobsson, Mattias Zachrisson and Andreas Nilsson as well as our goalkeepers.
“I’m sure those experienced players will be of help to our young guys who may not have played in the arena in Veszprém or at other tough away grounds in the world, but I’m sure they will learn fast. I have faith in our mix or experienced players and young talents,” says Kristján Andrésson.
His first match courtside will be the qualifier against Montenegro.
“Montenegro can switch between a 6-0, 5-1 and 3-2-1 formation in their defence and can even do so within the same defence session. That makes them very difficult to play against.
“Playing Slovakia away only two days later will also be a difficult task. We will only have a day and a half to prepare for that match.
“This is part of what makes working with a national team so much different from coaching a club team where you may have eight weeks to prepare your team for a new season.
“Still, we will probably need wins in both matches, and I believe we will get them,” says Andrésson.