24 January 2017
Will Qatar, surprising winner against Germany (21:20), be able to make it to the semi-finals? The answer will come on tonight at 20:45 against Slovenia, at Paris’ AccorHotels Arena.
Since their first appearance at a World Championship in 2003, Qatar have faced Slovenia only once. It was in January 2015, during the first round of their home World Championship, where both teams were placed in Group A. Valero Rivera’s team won 31:29, confirming their great ambitions following the naturalisation of several players. Rafael Capote was already there and was unstoppable (12/17). Jure Dolenec as well (8 goals) for Slovenia.
“For me Slovenia are a big team, I love how they play. It is one of the teams that play best handball,” said Bertrand Roine, the left back of Qatar after the feat against Germany. “So we will have to disrupt them a bit, and not let them play their game around the nine-meter line. Because if we do not all make this effort, it’s going to be very complicated. They are very good ball players.”
Two players to watch: Rafael Capote and Vid Kavticnik
Very good at the Olympic Games in Rio, where Slovenia reached the quarter-finals (defeated 37:30 by Denmark), the versatile Vid Kavticnik has been faithful to his style since the beginning of the World Championship. Capable of playing right back, winger or center back, the Montpellier player has a nice ratio of 70% success in shooting (21/30). He will obviously do everything he can to play a potential semi-final against France against his good friend Nikola Karabatic.
To do that it will be necessary to stop Rafael Capote. The tall (1.98 m) Cuban, naturalised Qatari in 2014. He finished his group stage with a 5/5 against Denmark and beat almost single-handedly beat Germany in their eighth-final. A game that finished with nine goals for him, including the last four for his team. After playing in such pressure, it remains to be seen what physical state the best left back of the 2015 World Championship will appear in. Capote spent 56 minutes on the court against the Germans.
France 2017 ambassador and 1995 world champion Philippe Gardent gives his thoughts on the tie…
“It’s a fight between two opposing styles. One is based on speed, well organised for the Slovenes, especially in attack where they play in motion, with a lot of combinations. On the other hand, Qatar is playing a game much more physical. Are the Qataris able to move forward in this tournament? Yes, in my opinion, they will be boosted by the win against Germany. For the Slovenians, it’s all or nothing. If the Slovenians are on a good day, Qatar are in danger.”
Photo: Crosnier/Michel – Francehandball2017 / IHF