British men prepare for Italy trip

07 June 2012 / 16:21

Great Britain men's handball side step up their preparation for the Olympic Games this weekend by competing in a Euro 2014 pre-qualification tournament in Italy.

GB will play Switzerland on Friday, Greece on Saturday and the hosts on Sunday in a round-robin competition, with the top two teams advancing to the qualification groups for the European Championship in Denmark in 18 months time.

While progression will be tough, the three games give vital time on the court for Dragan Djukic's side ahead of their bow at the London Games next month, where they will face both the reigning gold and silver medallists France and Iceland in the group stages.

"We're looking forward to the Euro 2014 qualification, this is a tough group with all four teams looking for a result," assistant coach Bill Baillie said.

"We have no injury concerns and will travel to Italy with 16 players, all players have been showing steady improvement and the staff and players are looking forward to the opener against Switzerland."

The GB squad have been on a training camp in Serbia for the last three weeks in preparation for both this weekend's tournament and the forthcoming Games, and Djukic cannot put a value on that time spent together.

"I am really happy with how they have worked, physically we are in great shape," he told Press Association Sport.

"Every day gives us more power and we are starting to look like a team. This is the first time we have ever been together for such a long time and nothing can change this.

"I believe there is a real good future for British Handball because our team is young.

"If you compare us with other teams, whose average age is 30-31, it means this side has the chance to play in two more Olympic cycles. The most important thing is legacy and what happens after the Olympics."