“There is only one Nora Mørk in the world”
November 21, 2018
INTERVIEW – Shortly before the European championship in France, Norway´s national coach, Thorir Hergeirsson, is a bit skeptical where his team actually stands without injured, world-class player, Nora Mørk. Add to it the absence of another left-hander, Stine Skogrand and his concerns take on a different dimension.
Yet, he is fully aware, that no matter which team Norway will send to the tournament, they will always be regarded as one of the favorites, given the vast number of talented players. Personally, he is reluctant to look too far down the road.
By Peter Bruun
“We live one day at a time therefore we take one match at the time!”
These are the words of Thorir Hergeisson, national coach of Norway’s women’s handball team since 2009, as he refers to the upcoming European championship, in France.
Icelandic born Hergeirsson is known to be careful and guarded, but this time he seems to be even more cautious than usual. The reason, of course, is explained by the fact that he will not only be missing long-term injured ,Nora Mørk, but another left-handed player as well, as Stine Skogrand recently informed him about her pregnancy.
“Obviously, there is only one Nora Mørk in the world, and of course, we will feel that she is not with us.
“And, in defense we will be missing another great player, now that Stine Skogrand is out, but in my experience some other players will take over and compensate for the ones who are missing.
“It may be different, but it can be different in a good way,” Thorir Hergeirsson tells stregspiller.com.
“In fact, I do not have much of an idea how we will function until I see us play. We will probably get some answers in the upcoming Møbelringen Cup, just a few days before EURO 2018. Still, we won’t get the ultimate answers until we start the tournament, in France,” says Hergeirsson who will rely on Amanda Kurtovic (CSM Bucuresti) and the experienced Linn Jørum Sulland (Vipers Kristiansand) in the absence of Mørk and Skogrand.
Expectations are always high
While Norway is the ruling European champion – as a matter of fact, they are back-to-back champions – it’s the host, France, that won the most recent major championship, when they defeated Hergeirsson’s team in an intense final match at the 2017 World Cup, in Germany.
Such circumstances might serve as additional motivation for the Norwegian team, to avenge the loss one year ago? No matter what, Norway will be listed among the top title contenders with or without Nora Mørk.
“We are used to be named among the favorites. It has been like this for many years now and we are okay with it.
“Of course, our own goal is to fight for medals once again, but in order to do so, we have to reach the semi-finals first. And, that’s tough in itself, in a competition including so many quality teams.
“In fact, this tournament looks like so many European championships in the past – it is packed with strong teams, and small things will make the difference in many of the games,” says Thorir Hergeirsson.
His team will start their EURO campaign in Brest, in Western France, where they will face Germany, the Czech Republic and Romania, in Group D.
“Germany will be arriving with fresh enthusiasm and a new coach. They always had good players, but they did not always perform as a team. It‘s my clear understanding that this has changed now, and this will make them a very tough opponent.
“The Czech Republic had a very fine World Championship last year, mainly because of a strong collective effort. Apart from putting together a solid team, they have an outstanding leader with Iveta Luzumova – they should not be underestimated either.
“Romania – the team speaks for itself, I think. Once again, they have a squad that can go all the way to the semi-finals,” finds the 54-year-old Norwegian coach who can expect the Netherlands, Spain and Hungary, to emerge from Group C.
Not looking too far ahead
However, he is not convinced that it will be these three teams that will make it to the main round.
“It would be easy just to mention these three teams, but I don’t think you should write-off the fourth nation in this group – Croatia.
“They are not that bad at all, and they may produce an unpleasant surprise against some of their adversaries.
“But, I don’t want to look too far ahead, right now and speculate about possible opponents any further.
“To me, the first and foremost challenge is to move on from our preliminary group. Then we will see.
“As I said, I am not sure yet, how the solutions to replace Nora Mørk and Stine Skogrand will work.
“Therefore, we live one day at a time,” reiterates Thorir Hergeirsson.