Team GB receive handball thumping at the hands of Sweden


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The Independent Online

Sebastian Prieto has called for some perspective after Great Britain men went down to a second successive thumping at the Olympic Games.

GB were given a handballing lesson to the tune of a 41-19 defeat by three-time silver medallists Sweden at the Copper Box this afternoon, which followed hot on the heels of a 44-15 defeat to reigning champions France on Sunday.

The British public, who are experiencing handball for the first time at London 2012, may become disheartened by the severity of Team GB's defeats, but having being formed just six years ago, losses against nations of such calibre is not unexpected.

While Prieto, 25, admits it is sometimes difficult to detach from the regular taste of defeat, he has urged people to remember where his team have come from.

"We are losing to top teams in the world," he told Press Association Sport. "Three years ago we were losing by that much to third division league teams, so we have to have some perspective.

"We've only had six years to plan this. Some players had never played handball before, we had funding cuts and made many sacrifices to get here.

"Technically and tactically teams are better than us but we are trying very hard and we have played the two toughest teams in the group, who are in a class of their own.

"No-one likes losing, but unfortunately in this programme we've had to lose a lot because every time we won a match we went up a level.

"The Olympics are here for people to have fun and everyone is supporting us which is great. It's a fantastic sport to watch, which is why everyone is enjoying it. If it was football we would have lost that 6-0 and that's no fun to watch but in handball we still score goals and make tackles."

Sweden delivered a clinical performance that outlined their medal-winning credentials, scoring 24 out of 26 shots in a first half that Team GB coach Dragan Djukic is keen to wipe from the memory bank.

"I really want to forget the first half as soon as possible because our defence didn't function well," he told Press Association Sport.

"In the second half it was a little bit more like how we want to play and how I dream we can present in our next game.

"We need the support of the goalkeepers as in the first half we made just one save and that is the reason they scored 24 goals, but the second half was a little better.

"They played excellently in defence and we got frustrated, which is why they scored so many fast breaks. We couldn't score any really easy goals, but that is not just a problem from today, it's an old problem.

"We need more shooters because it is easy for other teams to predict how they play and if they mark Steven Larsson it is very difficult to score.

"If Sweden can be this good in defence then they can get to the quarter-finals at least."

Sweden coach Staffan Olsson, who has seen his side win both of their opening two games, was pleased with the professionalism shown.

"I told them to be totally professional and treat Great Britain as if they were a top side. I was very pleased that the guys did just that," he said.

"We went for them straight away and were very clinical and positive in our attitude."