| LONDON, July 31
LONDON, July 31 Gudmundur Gudmundsson has been
coaching handball for 23 years and rated his Iceland Olympic
side's first-period scoring blitz against Tunisia on Tuesday as
one of the best halves he has ever seen.
At 1-1 after five minutes the Beijing silver medallists did
not come flying out of the blocks. But seven minutes later they
led 6-1, before racking up 19 goals in the first 30 minutes to
blow the North Africans out of sight.
Although Iceland's performance dipped in the second half en
route to a 32-22 win, Gudmundsson was clearly delighted with his
Group A pacesetters, who have won both of their games so far.
"We had more or less a flawless game in the first half,
which is not easy in handball," Gudmundsson told Reuters as the
exhausted Iceland players nearby drank from water bottles.
"Our scoring percentage was 86 per cent, our defence was
very strong as was our goalkeeper, so I have to say the first
half was one of the best I have ever experienced as a coach. And
I've been around a long time," he said with a smile.
"This is an emotional team, fighting all the time from the
Iceland began the second half like a fast-moving train,
moving into a 23-8 lead after just 35 minutes of play, and then
slowed, constantly rotating team members with the next group
games in mind.
"We went down when we were resting players but I was very
pleased when we pushed on the gas pedal again in the last five
minutes and scored some very good goals."
TOUGHER COMPETITORS AHEAD
Iceland next face three-time silver medallists Sweden on
Aug. 2 (2015 GMT) and defending champions France on Aug. 4
(1830), tougher opposition than first-game opponents Argentina
The prospect did not worry Gudmundsson, who said his players
were looking forward to a more "normal" time to be on court.
"Nine-thirty in the morning is not easy for any team. We
have had this now two times and we are a bit tired. We have not
been sleeping enough. It's not easy to go to bed early and wake
up at 5:30 in the morning. It's tough."
Iceland's lack of sleep has barely showed, however.
"We have been preparing for this for a week. You have to
prepare in a very special way. We've done that."
As for Iceland's defence of their surprise second place four
years ago, the nation's first silver medal since 1956,
Gudmundsson was pleased with the progress of his team.
"Our objective was to win our first two games and qualify
for the quarter-finals as quickly as possible. We have a clear
goal, but we will not talk about it," he said with a grin before
dashing off to congratulate his team in the locker room.
(Edited by Sonya Hepinstall)