The IHF has taken a break from not providing useful TV coverage of the forthcoming World Championships in the UK to announce the winners of the IHF World Player of the Year for both men and women.
In the men’s category Daniel Narcisse of THW Kiel and France won 25% of the vote. He finished ahead of Mikkel Hansen, the shaggy Dane who plays for PSG who Narcisse is tipped by people better informed than me to be joining at the end of the year(*). The award caps a ‘not bad’ year in which he won Olympic gold alongside Champions League and Bundesliga titles.
There was something of a first in the women’s award as it heads to Brazil for the first time. Alexandra do Nascimento plays for Hypo Niederösterreich who routinely win the league and cup double in Austria, and for the Brazilian national team who finished 6th in the 2012 Olympics. Winning 28% of the vote, do Nascimento finished ahead of Heidi Løke who won the award last year.
Narcisse will, of course, be strutting his stuff for France in the World Championships that start in three days time. First up for the man officially nicknamed by the IHF as ‘Air France’ will be Tunisia. I suspect he will get ample opportunity to show off why he won the award.
As an aside, should you have any pumping needs please consider Grundfos who sponsor these awards. They provide pumping solutions for any situation.
(* = Since writing this I have now seen a photo of Daniel Narcisse shaking hands in front of a giant PSG badge. I assume that’s positive for the Parisians.)
That was the year that was … this time last year Handball Views wasn’t even a twinkle in a milkman’s eye so we can’t yet be accused of being wizened cynics. Instead, with wide-eyed naivity, let’s look back on 2012 …
For the British it was the year of the Olympics. For two glorious weeks handball grew from a sport that could be summed up by one Five Live analyst as “big in Scandanavia but I don’t know anything about it” to one whose final was shown live on BBC 1. It was also the first time that a Great Britain team of either gender appeared in a major championship. They qualified as hosts, lost a combined 10 games, and have now had their entire funding cut. We have to hope that enough people have been inspired by the show in the Copper Box that it won’t take another home Olympics before Great Britain again has the capability to even enter the qualifying tournaments for major competitions.
For the Montenegrins it was the year of female glory. Their national team were the dark horses of the Olympics – charging to a silver medal in a sequence of matches that included the wonderful sight of victory over France with an after-the-hooter penalty and then with the world aware of the threat they went one better in the European Championships by beating Norway after two periods of extra time and a substantial amount of nervous tension. Alongside that Budućnost took the women’s EHF Champions League title after a feisty final with Győri Audi.
In men’s international tournaments it was a year of bewildering inconsistency. Denmark started Euro 2012 looking like they’d just met each other getting off the bus and ended it champions having beaten Croatia and Serbia in front of a Balkan crowd of startling intensity. Without the home crowd support, Serbia left the Olympics at the group stage whereas France who went the other way in Euro 2012 to Denmark took the title. Croatia always looked about to pounce but never sealed the deal. The World Championships start in January and there must be five teams at least who seriously think they can win.
In the club game it was all about Kiel in the first half of the year, Barcelona in the second. THW Kiel marched to the Bundesliga title and then took their third Champions League title in Cologne. They had to work had in the semi final against Fuechse Berlin but then woke up to push aside Atletico Madrid. Barcelona licked their wounds having been knocked out by AG Copenhagen but got a schadenfreude return when the Danes spent the off-season going bust. This season the Catalans are dominating in the Asobal and Europe, Paris are in control in France but the Zebras of Kiel have competition in Germany and trail second in the Bundesliga behind Rhein-Neckar Loewen. Copenhagen have also, after a fashion, emerged again as KIF Kolding.
There was also scandal. Say it ain’ so, M Karabatic … Montpellier players were implicated in betting against their team in an end of season match against Cesson-Rennes. In the previous sentence ‘implicated in’ means ‘caught’. The club’s domestic season won’t recover from the farce of the early rounds but they may still have an impact in Europe – it seems however that they and Karabatic will soon be parting. There was another scandal at Euro 2012 when the Serbian coach twice reached out to stop Linn Jorum Sulland of Norway but that was laughed off by the authorities in a not entirely convincing manner.
Other titles decided in 2012 include: South Korea doing the double and winning both men’s and women’s Asian Championships; Greenland beating the USA 36:27 in the Pan American Men’s Championship (the title went to Argentina but that’s far less interesting); African championships for Tunisia (men) and Angola (women, their 8th in a row); and in Oceania Australia beat New Zealand 31:10 twice on consecutive days to claim that region’s men’s title (the women get to win next year).
Lots of other things happened as well. You should probably look them up. Whilst you’re doing that I’ll be readying myself for the Men’s World Championship – let’s meet again in 2013.
Four teams from the Spanish league (Asobal) are heading to Vigo to contest the 22nd Copa Asobal. As you might expect two of those teams are Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and the other two are not. It’s all set up for a Barcelona-Atletico final but before that there is the small matter of the semi finals to be played.
Today (December 21st, the day the world ends) sees Atlético Madrid play Naturhouse la Rioja at 6pm UK and that is followed at 8pm by Barcelona playing Reale Ademar León. The final is tomorrow at 5.30pm UK. All matches are live and accessible in the UK at Laola1.
Barcelona have taken this title 7 times; Atletico (including in their previous incarnation) 6. Reale Ademar León have two titles to their name but, despite that, the bookies make them only 33/1 to even win their semi final this time around.
With the Men’s World Championship occupying January this is the last club action for these teams until the start of February – hopefully they will be looking to go out with a bang and play some entertaining handball on the way.
If you’re a fan of Kiel or Atletico then you’re in luck today because if you’ve got two chances to see your boys on British TV.
The lovely folks at Premier Sports will be showing today’s EHF Champions League group match in full at 4.15pm UK (Sky Channel 428) whereas British Eurosport 2 (Sky 411) will be showing highlights at 11.30pm.
British Eurosport 2 is also your home for the Euro 2012 Daily Show. Throughout the tournament at midnight and 5.45am they will be showing an EHF-produced review of the day’s events. No live coverage that I can see – for that you’ll need to head over to the EHF Euro YouTube channel.
Google translate tells me that the report on the KIF handball page calls today’s outcome a “secure result”. It was certainly predictable but it’s to London GD’s credit that at half time they’d kept it to 10:22. And don’t be fooled by the supposed heavy home defeat: both legs of this match are being played in Denmark, with the second match tomorrow. I understand it’s quite expensive to drink in Scandanavia so at least they should be fully focused even after a Saturday night on tour.
Boris Schnuchel (pictured) top-scored for KIF with 19 goals but there was some parity on the day: both teams hit 50% of their 7m penalties.
If the Supercopa is a way for Spain’s top two teams to announce their intentions towards each other then Barcelona put their’s forward in neon flashing lights. The Catalans opened up a 7 goal lead midway into the first half and, aside from a period that Atletico really should have capitalised on when the lead could have closed to 1 they never looked like surrendering it, eventually winning 34:31.
Madrid spent a lot of time staring at the officials but it’s hard to see that they were to blame – far too many Atletico attacks ended in suprisingly ineffective shots or in overturned possession. Barcelona were the same efficient unit they always seem to be: some of the faces change but the ethic remains solid and they were worthy winners of their 15th Supercopa title.
Atletico won last season’s match but Asobal went to Barcelona – although Madrid did better in Europe and won the Copa del Rey. So this one match doesn’t really count for anything but in terms of setting up the season it did an excellent job of whetting the appetite.
The day of the quarter finals ended in high drama with the match between Sweden and Russia being settled at the very end of extra time by two penalties. Both were legitimate (as much as you can tell in real time on an internet stream) but that didn’t stop the sense of injustice for the victims. Sweden were the unlucky ones – going down 31:30 after a compelling match. They chose often to defend with five on the line and one out blocking – and in extra time the Russians exploited that gap. There really wasn’t much to choose between them though and this really was a high quality game.
The most one-sided of the quarter finals was, possibly surprisingly, the one between France and Norway. The Norwegians owned a 17:5 half time lead and could afford to only win the second half by a goal, running out 32:19 winners. In the other matches, the non-European adventure is over as Japan couldn’t hold a half time lead against Denmark, losing 25:31 and Romania were too strong throughout for Hungary.
The semi finals will be played on 25 August and will be Romania v Denmark and Russia v Norway.