For only the second time the women’s national team of Faroe Islands has made it to the second and final qualification phase for a European Championship.
They first achieved the feat in the build-up to the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France, but the team from the 50,000-inhabitant group of islands in the North Atlantics failed to get a point.
And their head coach, Ágúst Jóhansson, cannot rule out that his team might not get a better outcome this time.
“We have very young team, with several players born as late as 2002. And we are in a very difficult group, so you could hardly expect us to go through,” says Jóhansson, referring to Women's EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers Group 7.
Faroe Islands will start their campaign in Poland on 25 September and at home against Romania four days later, while Ukraine are the other team in the group.
“Those are obviously all very difficult opponents, and all with considerably more experience than us. So it is difficult to predict where we might have a chance to get a point or two,” Jóhansson says.
“Of course, the chance to spring a surprise is always there. In our home games in particular we may have a chance, but our main objective is to build a team for the future. In this respect our team can gain plenty of valuable experience.”
Jóhansson is a 42-year-old Icelandic coach with a lot of experience. He has been in charge of Faroe Islands since 2018, and previously led the women’s national team of Iceland, several women’s and men’s top teams in Iceland, as well as Danish league club SønderjyskE.
Hoping for more players to go abroad
Only four players from the current Faroe Islands squad play for foreign clubs - all in Denmark. While just two of them are with top-flight clubs, neither of them is part of the clubs’ first team.
The remaining squad members are all playing in the Faroe Islands league.
“The players in Denmark play in the second league or lower, but they still get some useful experience there. For the other players, I can only say that our domestic league gets stronger all the time,” Jóhansson says.
“Still, our players lack some experience when meeting teams from the continent. Therefore, I would very much like to see more of our players going abroad, to Denmark, Sweden and Norway in particular, where they could harvest some more experience.”
Coming through the first phase of the qualifiers has been “once again a big achievement” which helps the team in its process of building towards the future.
“Our current team should reach its peak in two or three years’ time,” the head coach expects.
Recent success of men’s team as motivation
Recently the men’s national team of Faroe Islands did very well in the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers, qualifying directly for the qualification for the World Championship in 2021 in Egypt.
The women obviously are eager to repeat the men’s achievement.
“It may not be this time, but I am convinced that our women’s team can and will be just as strong as our men’s team. Just give us a couple of years, and I am sure we will be there,” Jóhansson says.
“We really do have a very promising young team so I see a bright future for Faroe Island handball, also when it comes to the women’s team.”