After two match days two of the groups are starting to take shape with the most pleasing aspect of it all for the home fans being that their girls are two-from-two. So, let’s wrap up what happened today and look ahead to tomorrow:
Let’s start in Group B because that’s where the crowd’s attention is most keenly focused. Brazil were up first in Niš and followed up their comfortable win over Algeria with another one over China. This time they did the damage mostly in the second half rather than the first but took it home 34:21 – Fernanda da Silva taking her tournament tally to 18 goals. Serbia were in the hall next – and the crowd swelled from 200 to about 4,000 – and they rampaged past Algeria mixing confident attack with solid defence. They were 18:6 up at the break and kept going for a 34:14 win – every goal cheered by the raucous crowd as if it had just won the title. Lastly it was Japan and Denmark. In 2011 when they met in the World Championship it took extra time to separate them. Denmark started this time by demolishing China, Japan were edged out in the tournament opener by Serbia. Today’s game started as a throwback to 2011 with the teams level at the half – Denmark took the spoils though, winning 29:25.
This all leaves Brazil, Serbia and Denmark with 100% records and presumably confident of progressing. In contrast, Japan, China and Algeria are without any points to their name. Of those three it’s Japan who look the most likely to take the fourth and final qualifying spot.
Back to Group A which began today with a bit of welcome non-European success. South Korea rode a strong first half performance to outlast the Netherlands 29:26 and record their first points. Next up was the possible mismatch of the tournament as DR Congo faced European champions Montenegro. It didn’t end well as Congo really struggled to find space for shooting and at full time it was 35:9 – Bulatović adding 5 goals to her opening day 9. And lastly. we had the battle of the blue, white and red flags as Dominican Republic faced France. It started well for the Dominicans – they were only 5:3 down when I switched on for a bit, and ‘only’ 4:10 at the break. France rotated a lot and had 11 different scorers but were still able to run out 27:10 winners.
So, the standings for Group A are now France and Montenegro ahead of the pack with 4 points, South Korea and the Netherlands have 2 points, Dominican Republic and DR Congo have zero points. The smart money probably says that the group will settle to look like that by the end.
Tomorrow sees Groups C and D take to the court. In Group C Angola have a second opportunity to beat South American opposition – having taken down Argentina they’ll be strong favourites against the notably weaker Paraguay. Spain lost their opening encounter to Norway but should still have too much for Poland – and the day is rounded off by Argentina facing Norway. I’ll eat your hat if Norway lose that one.
It could all be one-way traffic in Group D as well. Tunisia weren’t that impressive in losing to Romania and this time they have the tougher test of Hungary to stand up to. This is followed by Germany’s probable victory over the Czech Republic – although Germany’s opener against Australia was probably too much of a stroll to judge their overall strength. Lastly, it is Australia who played with passion if not guile in their opening game against Romania who will surely be far too strong for them.
Remember, you can legally watch this over at livestream.tv for the privilege of paying the IHF a stunning £40. The alternative is to watch for whatever you have in a Bet365 account and click on livestreaming – all the matches are there. There are illegal alternatives but make sure your anti-virus is up to date.
And, finally, over on YouTube highlights of the days are appearing the morning after. That’s everything compressed into just under 10 mins. The link for those is here.
A veritable feast of handball saw results pretty much go as expected but if there was a lack of surprises there was no shortage of skill and effort – and, pleasingly, the venues looked an awful lot fuller than when Serbia staged the women’s Euro 2012.
Anyway, here’s how it all shook down:
In Group A, European champions had to work hard to overcome the challenge from South Korea. The Koreans opened out a lead early in the first half and it was 11-11 at the break. Montenegro eventually winning 24:22 but the game’s top scorer was Sun Hee Woo of Korea. Elsewhere in the group France overwhelmed DR Congo 31:13 (with Christianne Mwasese Mwange getting 9 of those 13) and Netherlands did the same to the Dominican Republic by 44:21.
We already knew that Group B had started with a win for the hometown Serbs over Japan. That was followed today by Brazil hitting the front early against Algeria (up by 7 after 15 minutes; 21:7 at half time) before finally running out 36:20 winners. The last game saw Denmark put on a show against China. The opening few minutes was reasonably even but by half time the Danes were showing their class and the second half was one-way traffice. The final score was 44:21. China finished bottom of their group in 2011 with a -63 points difference – they actually need to improve to avoid that this time.
Group C started with a dominant performance from Angola who turned a pretty tight first half into a comfortable 33:23 victory over Argentina. The fact that the Angolans were 100% from their six 7m shots shows both how good they got shooting-wise but also how they harried the Argentinians into errors in the second half in particular. This is was then followed by an even more dominant showing from Poland as more than a dozen of their team got on the scoresheet as they spanked Paraguay 40:6. Katarzyna Koniuszaniec top-scored with 8. The big match in Group C was between 2011 champions Norway and 2011 bronze medalists Spain – and it did turn out to be a nicely close affair. Neither team will feel they played anything like their best in a match where nobody was able to establish control. A 7m penalty two minutes from the end gave Norway a 2 point lead and that they maintained when Spain had their own 7m saved a minute later. In the end it finished 22:20 both teams will have better days and are in no danger of not making the knock out rounds anyway.
Hungary are likely to be challengers come the end of the tournament and they started strongly today in Group D with the woman who crops up in all the photos, Anita Görbicz, grabbing 9 as they stormed past the Czech Republic 35:27. It was also a dominant performance from Germany but they were up against the minnows from Australia – final score 36:15, although Australia deserve a lot of credit especially for how they took the game to the Germans in the opening twenty minutes. In the last group D game, Romania were far too strong for Tunisia without being particularly impressive in winning 27:17.
Groups A and B are in action on Sunday. In Group A, it’s South Korea v Netherlands followed by DR Congo v Montenegro, and then lastly it’s Dominican Republic v France. Over in Group B, they have China v Brazil, then Algeria v Serbia, wrap up with Japan v Denmark.