2018 Beach Handball World Championships: Finalists unveiled

2018 Beach Handball World Championships: Finalists unveiled

July 28, 2018 - 22:29
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Competition Day 5 of the Men’s and Women’s Handball World Championships in Kazan was the most important day for the teams, as the candidates for the prizes of the tournament played the quarter- and semifinals today, July 28. This decisive round stirred a number of sensations. The Greek women’s side made it to the final stage of their inaugural world championships, and Brazil vs Spain define the bronze medallists. The men’s event turned out to be more predictable – Team Croatia plays against Brazil in the third final match of the world championships in a row.

The competition day started with quarterfinal matches. The Swedes and the Brazilians were first to get into the semifinal round. The former confidently beat Iran, the latter got the better over the Spaniards only in the shootout. Sweden and Brazil made the first semifinal pair in the men’s competition. Soon the Croats, the current world champions, joined them by defeating Team Denmark in the shootout. Russia and Hungary struggled for the fourth berth into the semifinals. The sides went head to head in the first half, but in the end the host team had bad luck. They could have gained the upper hand twice, but failed to. Then the Hungarian goalkeepers demonstrated their finesse by doing their job so inspiringly that the Russians simply gave up. As a result, Hungary won and earned the fourth spot in the semifinal to play against Team Croatia.

The women’s competition prepared some surprises, as well. For instance, Team Greece, who participates in the world championships for the first time, made it through to the final. The Greek were obviously lucky in the match against Russia. At first the opponents finished two halves with the score 1-1, but at the crucial moment of the shootout the Russian made a shot, and it did ricochet past the woodwork. In the semifinal the Greek beach handball players took on the defending world title holders from Spain, who had beat Team Denmark in the shootout in the previous round. Brazil and Norway earned two more places in the semifinals. The Brazilians confidently clinched a victory over Paraguay in two sets, while the Scandinavian squad defeated Poland in the shootout.

In the consolation round of the men’s competition the players from Qatar came out with the flying colours twice – in the matches against New Zealand and the USA. Uruguay lost to Team Argentina in two sets, whereas the Americans whitewashed Vietnam. In Oman vs Australia the struggle was so tough that the shootout decided the outcome. The Asian beach handball players performed the shots better. Soon the Vietnamese bounced back for the morning session loss, confidently defeating New Zealand. Then the losers of the quarterfinals entered the struggle for the fifth position – the Spanish team made it easy to upset Iran in two periods. The Russians opposed the representatives of the Iberian peninsula. The host team was stronger than Denmark in the shootout. On the final day of the tournament Iran vs Denmark meet for the seventh place to take. Oman vs Argentina and Uruguay vs Australia wrapped the men’s consolation round: in the former pair the South Americans lost to the opponent, and in the latter pair the shootout favoured the Australians.

In the women’s consolation round, Vietnam and France whitewashed their opponents; Mexico and Uruguay beat Chinese Taipei and Australia respectively in the shootout; Vietnam defeated France (2-1); and the USA won in the fierce struggle against Team Thailand. Lastly, Team Uruguay and Chinese Taipei left no chances for Mexico and Australia respectively to challenge them. After the knockout in the quarterfinal the Polish team easily defeated the rival from Paraguay. The side of Poland will play against Denmark for the fifth place. They both punished the Russians in two sets. The host team lost the spirit for the game after their quarterfinal defeat, so they will take on Paraguay to try to occupy the seventh place.

In the end of the day the audience savoured the semifinal matches of the tournament. The men’s sides Brazil vs Sweden were first to come out on sand to face each other in pursuit of a spot in the final. Ahead of the tournament the Scandinavian powerhouse had probably not dreamed about going that far, yet delivered a smart result. These contenders had already met in the group round of the Kazan world championships, and back then the Swedes had celebrated their victory in the shootout. Since then the Brazilians had gained strength, that is why they could bounce back and became the first finalists of the World Championships. The support of the stands was of no effect for Team Sweden, whose fans were loudest throughout the tournament, of course, second to the fans of the Russian national team. In the other semifinal pair the Croats had no trouble in the fight against Team Hungary. The first period ended in favour of the current world champions with an eight-point lead, in the second half the players from the Balkans won with a six-point margin. Thus, the men’s final of the Kazan World Championships will be the same as the decisive match held two years ago. Brazil and Croatia will compete for the trophy. Hungarians and Swedes will vie for the bronze medals. In the women’s event, Team Norway surprisingly upset Brazil in the semifinal. The shots of the players from the northland were more accurate than those of the opponent, enabling to win each half with a one-point lead. Two years ago in Budapest the Norwegians took bronze, now they are at least silver medallists. In the semifinal match of the current world champions of Spain vs debutants of the world championships of Greece, the shootout determined the winner. The Greek players were luckier than the opponent and made to the final round of their inaugural world championships. It goes without saying, this was the major news of the tournament. Brazil vs Spain compete for bronze, whereas Greece vs Norway play for gold.

Media and Communications Department of Directorate for Sports and Social Projects

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