Eurosport - Thu, 01 Apr 10:05:00 2010
Great Britain head coach Jesper Holmris has pleaded for patience after watching his players slide to a 27-16 defeat to Iceland in the 2010 European Championships qualification at Crystal Palace.
The home side, which included no British-based players, slumped to their third defeat of the qualifying campaign after losing to Austria and former world champions France in October.
Only the top two from the group of four will qualify for the Championships to be held in Denmark and Norway in December and Holmris admitted his side's hopes are all but over now.
But he believes the score line shows an improvement in his side and is hoping they can get even closer when they play the Icelanders again on Saturday in Reykjavik.
"I hope we can reduce the deficit even more when we play them again at the weekend as that will show that we have learnt from this," he said.
"It is all about the process at the moment and not the results because we are such a new team and most of the players are just girls compared to the women they are coming up against.
"We want to continue to develop but we are the weakest team in the group and we knew that from the beginning. It's just a great chance to play against the best players in Europe.
"We are bringing in new players at every training camp so as the time goes on we get stronger and we just need more time."
Despite the Scandinavians racing to a four-goal lead, the British worked their way back into the game trailing by only one goal after 15 minutes at 4-5.
But Iceland were energetic throughout the first half and fine performances from Hanna Stefansdottir and Anna Gudmundsdottir saw their side go in at the interval with a commanding 15-7 advantage.
Great Britain's goalkeeper Sarah Hargreaves, who played almost the full 60 minutes despite a broken toe, faced a barrage of shots but made a number of fine saves to keep her side within touching distance at the half-way point.
Britain came out raring to go in the second half and closed the gap within minutes of the restart, thanks to two goals from left-winger Holly Lam Moores but Iceland never looked like letting go of their lead.
And despite some solid defending from Great Britain captain Lynn McCafferty and Lyn Byl, the Icelanders powered through the remainder of the game with Stefansdottir taking her tally to 13 goals for the match.
Iceland have now won two out of three group games after defeating Austria 29-25 and will be hopeful of making it through behind France, who remain unbeaten after their 24-27 win over the Austrians.
Meanwhile, Holmris maintains the only way his side can really become world class is if they produce taller, stronger players to compete with the rest of Europe.
"We struggle with height in the team and it is hard to defend when their players are so much bigger than yours, so we need to find taller players to bring in," he added.
"We have players come through the Sporting Giants program and that is definitely a step in the right direction for us.
"Our girls are very talented, especially when you consider some of them have only taken up the sport in the last couple of years, but we need to make sure all the factors are there.
"We are always looking ahead and that is why we have our players out in Europe playing in the best leagues so they can concentrate on their handball."