Can anyone stop Denmark? The 26th IHF Men’s World Championship co-hosts continued cruising through their campaign with yet another comfortable win on Saturday night, as they defeated Hungary in their first main round match. Denmark joined their neighbours Sweden on six points at the top of the table thanks to the victory.
Following the results on the opening main round day, Tunisia and Hungary cannot pass Denmark or Sweden on the table, so both are now out of contention for the semi-finals. Egypt and Norway have yet to start the main round. They will clash on Sunday evening in what will be the African side’s first match in Herning after their preliminary round campaign in Copenhagen.
Denmark vs Hungary 25:22 (15:10)
Some of Denmark’s pace was gone from their usual fast-break game, but the World Championship co-hosts pulled off an impressive victory over Hungary to open their main round campaign nevertheless. For the first time, coach Nikolaj Jacobsen did not use his entire line-up, and a rather low number of Danish players – eight – contributed to the final score.
After his 14-goal game versus Norway, Mikkel Hansen led Denmark’s attack again on Sunday night, tallying seven goals. In goal, Niklas Landin had his first imperfect performance after reaching the end of the preliminary round with an incredible average save rate of 45%. The Denmark captain was replaced by Jannick Green after the first quarter, who stepped up spectacularly behind the once again outstanding 6-0 defence and earned the hummel player of the match award.
It took Denmark 10 minutes to pull away from a one-goal distance, and they did not falter after that, steadily increasing the gap until the buzzer. They were the side that eliminated Denmark at the 2017 World Championship, defeating the Olympic champions in the eighth-final stage, but Hungary could not match Denmark’s strength this time around.
Hungary coach Istvan Csoknyai tried different combinations, in the end favouring what were his strongest, tallest defensive options against the world-class Danish back court. For the second period, Marton Szekely came in to replace Roland Mikler between the posts. Hungary switched from 6-0 to 5-1, and at the other end of the court occasionally used two line players and two backs rather than a centre.
Though Denmark held the upper hand consistently, nothing was decided until the whistle as Hungary were still within reach, 25:21, with five minutes left on the clock. However, Denmark kept their opponents at bay and collected their sixth straight win at the World Championship.
EHF EURO 2018 silver medallists Sweden began their 26th IHF Men’s World Championship main round campaign with a decisive win over Tunisia, thereby moving up to six points on the Group II table and leaving the African side on zero. Tunisia keeper Makrem Missaoui was the only player not to step on the court during the match, as both teams used their entire line-up during the 60 minutes – but it was Sweden’s who proved the stronger of the two as they powered to a clear win.
The loss means that Tunisia can no longer reach the semi-finals.
Tunisia vs Sweden 23:35 (14:19)
After Tunisia had the better start, Sweden fought their way to the advantage by the end of the first quarter and steadily increased their lead to a considerable 12-goal margin at the final whistle.
Sweden had some trouble finding their rhythm to begin with, and the score board showed 7:6 for Tunisia in the 11th minute when the African champions recorded 100% shooting accuracy and the Scandinavian team had just 56%. Sweden’s scoring trouble was due to the great performance from Tunisia keeper Ahmed Amine Bedoui, while at the other end of the court, Andreas Palicka did not have his best day between the posts.
Mikael Appelgren came on to replace Palicka in the 16th minute, just after his team had taken the lead off a goal from captain Niclas Ekberg, who went on to tally a total of seven goals. Ekberg was key for Sweden from the penalty line in particular, while Andreas Nilsson had a strong game at pivot, with seven goals. The goals from Nilsson highlighted troubles in Tunisia’s defence, as the back court found the line player again and again.
For Tunisia, Mosbah Sanai was again an important part of the offence, scoring their opening three goals and finishing with six to be his side’s top scorer. It was Andreas Nilsson who pulled Sweden in front to their first two-goal distance, 10:8, with his fourth goal, and by the end of the half his team had created a 19:14 lead.
The second period belonged completely to Sweden. Both teams rotated their line-up often and Tunisia changed between 6-0 and 5-1 in an effort to control the play into Nilsson, but Sweden were too strong for the African team. By the 50th minute, the EURO runners-up had created a 10-goal lead, 32:22, and were clearly on the way to their first two points of the main round.
Andreas Nilsson received the hummel player of the match award.
Statements after the match:
Kristjan Andresson, coach Sweden: It was a game with a lot of pace. For me it was the best game of all of our games in this tournament. I am very satisfied with our performance.
Antonio Gerona Salaet, coach Tunisia: We had big problems against a good defence and a great goalkeeper. We need to learn from these kinds of games. We only have a short time to recover, so we have to move on. To lose be by 10 is too much, but we have to move forward.