Danes remain unbeaten with hard-fought win

Magnus Landin

18 January 2017

The 2016 Olympic champions continue their undefeated run at the World Championship, with a victory against Bahrain that was more difficult than expected.

Denmark continued their unbeaten run through the 25th IHF Men’s World Championship preliminary round with a victory against Bahrain. Gudmundur Gudmundsson initially chose to use fewer resources and rested key players like centre back Morten Olsen through the first half during which Bahrain endangered the win in the second half.

Despite the loss, Bahrain showed improved form that confirms they are developing their game as they proceed with the France 2017 campaign.

Group D: Denmark vs Bahrain 30:26 (17:13)

Bahrain surprised Denmark with a strong start that saw the score level at 3:3 after five minutes, and 5:5 at the 10-minute mark. But from that moment Denmark kicked up their game a gear, and as the clock reached the middle of the half the Olympic champions had pulled ahead to a 9:5 advantage thanks to four straight goals from Magnus Landin, Henrik Toft Hansen – who contributed two in that period – and Michael Damgaard.

At the other end of the court, Niklas Landin warmed into the game, saving at a rate of 42 per cent when his team continued to hold the same four-goal difference. Lasse Svan took the score to 15:11 with five minutes left in the half, and Denmark remained in front by four at the half-time whistle.

For the second half Gudmundsson changed Niklas Landin for Jannick Green in goal, and though he rotated through his bench the coach was clearly not comfortable enough to make significant changes to his line-up. Denmark’s defence remained almost the same as usual with the Toft Hansen brothers and Henrik Mollgaard on court for most of the match as the Olympic champions had some trouble stopping the different playing style they were up against.

Just under 10 minutes into the second period, when Denmark stayed in front at 22:19 but seemed unable to tighten their hold on the game, Gudmundsson brought Niklas Landin back onto the court. Almost immediately after Mikkel Hansen received a direct red card for a collision in attack, and Bahrain capitalised on his absence.

Much to the alarm of Gudmundsson, the Asian team decreased the score line to come within one at 24:23 just as the last 15 minutes of the match began. But when the clock hit 50 minutes and Niklas Landin made his ninth save, the Europeans had settled back into the lead at 26:23.

As the full-time buzzer drew near Bahrain kept fighting but could not come any closer, and Denmark held on to take a four-goal win and move up to eight points on the table.

Post-match reactions: 

Mohamed ABDULLA (BRN): “We played our best, but Denmark are a very good team, they won the last Olympics in Rio. We’re happy that we gave everything we had. We already played against them during the Olympic qualifications and we only lost by two goals. They are stronger than us physically, it’s hard for us, but we did our best. Against Argentina, we must play at the same level, we must give our best and we will see what happen.”

Hans LINDBERG (DEN):It was a tough game, it’s an awkward opponent. They have a lot of qualities and it was really hard for us. They played with ‘an offensive defence’, it’s hard to find the right solution. In attack, they have a lot of qualities in their shots. In the end, it was the right result. We will see tonight if the game against Qatar will be an important game.”

Player of the Match presented by Adidas: Henrik TOFT HANSEN (DEN)