After a game dominated by each side’s back courts and line players, Hungary opened the second main round day in Jyske Bank Boxen, Herning with a victory over Tunisia that earned them their first set of two points in this stage. Following their losses in their main round openers, neither side can reach the semi-finals anymore – but places in the Olympic Qualification Tournaments are at stake and the determined fight from both teams reflected that.
Norway followed their fellow Europeans’ example, starting their main round campaign with a win after a physically tough 60 minutes against Egypt where defence was the key factor. Norway thereby move up to four points on the Group II table, sitting right behind Sweden and Denmark, currently on six. The race for the semi-finals is now between the three Scandinavian teams.
Hungary vs Tunisia 26:22 (16:14)
Just as they did against Sweden in their first main round game on Saturday evening, Tunisia had a better start than their European opponents – but their advantage did not last long and they were soon left chasing Hungary. By the 10th minute, the score was level at 5:5 after Zsolt Balogh scored what was already his third goal. The back was a key attacker for Hungary, tallying nine goals – and he was not alone.
Both side’s games were led by their backs and line players. When Hungary took the advantage at 8:7 in the 18th minute with Mate Lekai’s third goal, the only players to have made their way onto the score board were on those positions. After starting with Makrem Missaoui in goal, Tunisia coach Antonia Gerona Salaet changed his keeper to Ahmed Amine Bedoui before Missaoui returned in the second period.
The first goal from a wing came from Oussama Boughanmi in the 25th minute, 13:11, but it was on a penalty. It was not until the second period that any wing managed to score from his position, while the backs and line players completely ran the show.
Hungary immediately began to increase their advantage when the match resumed, while Tunisia tried switching to 5-1 defence in an effort to control the back court. However, Lekai and Balogh in particular were unstoppable – even combining for a spectacular in-flight goal which pulled Hungary in front to 21:16 in the 40th minute. By the 50th, when Hungary had established a 24:17 lead after allowing only one goal from Tunisia in 10 minutes, Balogh had reached a tally of eight and Lekai counted seven.
Hungary’s strong 6-0 defence was supported by a great game from Marton Szekely, who was a significant obstacle for Tunisia’s shooters. Tunisia never stopped pushing but neither did Hungary, and the European side celebrated a four-goal win at the whistle. The victory moved Hungary up to three points on the Group II table, while Tunisia remain on zero.
Statements after the match:
Coach Hungary: Today was very important match for us. In the first 10 minutes, our team played with so many errors, but after 10 minutes we played much better in defence and our goalkeeper caught the balls. After we played confidently. In the last 10 minutes we had problems with the open defence of the Tunisia team, but I am happy because tonight we wanted to win and we won.
Antonio Gerona Salaet, coach Tunisia: They were leading for minute 19 or 18 of the first half. They deserve this victory, but OK I am happy today because our defence was so good in the second half, especially with this open defence. But we missed 19 shots in all the match, some of them clear situations even without the goalkeeper. Some shots even from six metres and that was too much. Even with the good defence we made in the second half we were only able to score seven goals [in that period] and of course, these days, scoring seven goals is impossible to win the match.
The team is working hard. These mistakes we made were too much to recover the difference but it’s OK. We have two days now to recover and to focus on the match against Egypt.
Norway vs Egypt 32:28 (16:14)
After their perfect run through the preliminary round came to an end versus Denmark in the final game, Norway returned to winning form in their opening main round match on Sunday night. Egypt pushed the Scandinavian side right till the end, containing their fast-break game well and forcing Norway to play mostly positional attack.
Egypt took an early lead before Norway claimed the edge, with the European team holding a 7:6 lead at the 10th minute when back Sander Sagosen already counted three goals to his name. After favouring the combination of Christian O’Sullivan at centre back and Eivind Tangen on right back to start most of their preliminary round matches, Norway coach Christian Berge started the contest against Egypt with Goran Johannessen and Magnus Rod on court.
Rod turned out to be a perfect choice at right back against Egypt, as he and Sagosen combined for a total of 20 goals in the match. The two were clearly Egypt’s biggest problem in defence. Egypt coach David Davis changed his line-up frequently, and his team kept close the entire game, but they had to work very hard against Norway’s solid 6-0 defence and their endurance was tested as they looked for shooting opportunities.
Egypt rotated up to three defensive and attacking specialists with each change of possession, and it was some of those changes that cost them the level score line as Norway’s counter attacks helped them add some distance. It was more of a combined effort from Egypt, as they finished the match with 11 players on the score sheet while only seven Norwegians scored during the game.
After Norway led by two at the break, nothing was decided. It was a tiring game for both teams, as each side took almost 50 shots in the match – 47 for Norway, 49 for Egypt. Egypt always had the chance to come back, as they were only behind by two goals with less than three minutes remaining (29:27). But Norway held on, with both Rod and Sagosen reaching the 10-goal mark by the time the final buzzer sounded. Sagosen received the hummel player of the match award.
Statements after the match:
Christian Berge, coach Norway: I thought Egypt played fast. They came with a lot of crosses and played a good game. We tried to run counter attack again. We did so in the first half but missed a lot of clear chances. It was a tight game until the very end.
David Davis, coach Egypt: Today we made too many mistakes. Stupid mistakes – exclusions and losing the ball. But I’m satisfied with the performance of the team, of course. For us it’s a present to be in the main round. We are going to fight all the matches, we fight today, we’re going to fight tomorrow and we’re going to fight against Tunisia because we just want to grow. I want to congratulate my players because they are making excellent tournament; we have only been working for five months.