The 2023 IMMAF World Championships will take place at the Tirana Olympic Park venue in Tirana, Albania, between November 20 and November 25.
Sweden will send a squad of 10 talented fighters to Albania, featuring both promising new fighters and seasoned National Team veterans.
In an interview with Sebastien Vendel-Martinez, from Frontkick’s sister site Maximum Sports, the Swedish National MMA Team coaches Besam Yousef and Joakim Engberg talk about the Swedish squad and chances to win medals.
According to the coaches, the fact that Sweden arranged the Nordic MMA Championship had a big effect on the team, as the decision to participate in the World Championships was made rather late.
“For us it meant that we had to take out two squads all of a sudden. It was a bit tricky since some fighters were injured and some not prepared, and then we had to choose who was fighting in the Nordic Championships and who to fight in the World Championships. That’s why the squad is thin,” Yousef claims.
The biggest challenges for the Swedish National MMA Team
According to coach Yousef, one of the biggest challenges the National Team is facing is that the coaches and the fighters never had a meeting ahead of the tournament in Albania.
“Some in the squad never represented the National Team before, or been to an IMMAF Championship before. It can be a tricky thing with weigh-ins every day, long waiting and everything around it. Most of them are used to fighting one fight at the time, not doing all these processes. So, that’s a challenge,” Yousef reasons.
“There are a couple of fighters in the squad who didn’t win the Swedish Championships. Some weight divisions had no fighters, and we also squeezed in a couple of youths in the squad. The team is a bit thinner than usual I would say.”
Coach Joakim Engberg agrees with his new colleague, but definitely sees a lot of potential in the ten fighters representing Sweden.
“The Team didn’t have a chance to meet before, but I think we have some very solid fighters,” Engberg says.
Good medal chances for Team Sweden
When asked about the medal chances for Team Sweden, both Yousef and Engberg are positive, even though the squad is rather small and includes some rather untested, yet promising, fighters.
“I think we will win a couple of medals, despite the conditions,” Yousef says. “I’m counting with three-four medals, and that’s not because our team is not good enough, but because there’s hell of a opposition out there. A lot of countries that are on a very high level.”
Coach Engberg believes that Astrid Vikgren and Hanna Palmquist got what it takes to bring back gold to Sweden.
“The girls and Sebastian Palacio Gomez from Örebro have good chances to win gold. There are some other fighters that are very good as well. I think we will win a couple of medals at least!”