Group stage is over in EOC

On Wednesday evening, the group stage ended in the national team tournament European Open Championship. Sweden went on to the Main Round after going through the group undefeated.

After a number of matches where it was mostly about how big the Swedish goal margin would be, it was thought that Wednesday’s decisive group game match with the Czech Republic would become a bigger test. Well-filled stands in Valhalla got to see an intensive opening with five goals in the first three minutes.

For Sweden, the playmaker Albert Månsson started the goal scoring after a powerful breakthrough. That initiative gave a clear indication of the importance of the game.
“I felt that it was a really good atmosphere and energy throughout the game”, said Månsson and when the situation opened up already in the first attack, he didn’t hesitate.
“I saw that I had a one-on-one situation and thought I would do my thing. It was very good that it went in!”.

The Czech Republic then got a small head start, but Sweden was quick to come back and take the lead. Two goals down transformed into five up. The counter attack game of play that the team has practiced so much on during the group stage, proved to be effective even against this type of opponent where Julian Sjögren showed how fast he really is.

During the end of the half, the team in blue-yellow played with a man less on a number of occasions. This opened up opportunities for the Czechs to get in touch and at the signal for 25 minutes played the score was 15-12.

The guests continued to take advantage of the momentum they seemingly acquired in the final stage of the first, and six minutes into the second half, the Czech equalizer came with the score being 17-17.

However, Sweden would never go behind scoring-wise. After the equalizer, the control increased again and it looked as if the team was about to go through the group stage without dropping any points. There was a lead with three goals, but the Czech Republic did not give up and managed to get 25-25 with what was the final finish of the match.
“We had a lead with three goals and there I think we were not sufficiently sharp. But it is clear, the guys are seventeen years old and there were some wrong choices made. We had the opportunity to close the game, so there is some stuff to improve”, said the coach Tomas Axnér afterwards.
“It’s a lot about routine and concentration”.

However, players and leaders do not need to be particularly sad. In spite of the lost point, Sweden took the first place in the group and during Thursday, games are now waiting in the Main Round.
“They should be a bit said when we do not win and had the lead, but at the same time we have not lost any match yet and we won the group on goal difference”.
“I think the teams we are going to meet now is on this level. So, we’ll take on the matches against Italy and Iceland and we will see how far it takes us”.

The Czech Republic also advanced to the same group in the Main Round. The four teams playing in the parallel group are the Faroe Islands, Belarus, Spain and Hungary.

Text: Erik Malmqvist
Foto: Karin Celander