19 January 2017
Six games of the 2017 World Championship take place on Thursday, 19 January, in Nantes and Metz. Here is the most important information about the three Group A and Group B games.
QUICK FACTS FOR….
Group A, Nantes, Hall XXL
14:00 Russia vs Brazil
In 2009, Brazil and Russia faced for the first time ever in a World Championship (in the President’s Cup, Russia won). Their second encounter happened four years later, in the eighth-finals (Russia again) and now both teams are already assured of making it to the eighth-finals. So the general progression of both sides on the world stage is clear!
“Even if we have already qualified, we can’t take our foot off the pedal. We have to stay focussed and keep in mind that we have to try and finish in the best spot possible,” said Russian coach Dmitri Torgovanov after his team’s win against Poland on Monday.
“Russia are a team that has shown good things since the beginning of the competition. They showed nerves against Poland, when they had to win to qualify. Some of their players are experienced and in crucial games like the one we’re about to play, they might have a little advantage,” foresees Brazilian right back Jose de Toledo.
17:45 France vs Poland
Poland beat France for the first time in history last January at the European Championship (31:25). France had won six of the seven previous ties and one ended in a draw.
Both teams might use this game to rest players before the rest of the competition. Poland are confirmed to be taking part in the President’s Cup while France have already secured the top spot in the group after beating Russia on Tuesday.
“We have two games left in this group phase, against Japan and France. We’d very much like to win the one against Japan. The one against France will be the perfect occasion for my players to learn, playing against the best team in handball right now,” said Talant Dujshebaev on Monday after losing against Russia (24:20).
20:45 Japan vs Norway
The record between both teams is a perfectly equal one, with two wins for each team. The last time the two teams met, in 2011, Norway won 35:29. The other three games all took place before 1972.
“We have had a nearly perfect run so far, I was even satisfied by what we showed against France. We have to stay aware that the second spot can only be reached if we beat Japan in the last game of the phase”, commented Norway coach Christian Berge.
“I’m very proud of what my players have produced so far, and also of their mentality. We knew, before the competition that it might be very tough dealing with such defeats. And we did suffer some, but my players kept their heads up and carried on fighting. Pride will definitely sum up our week in Nantes”, said Japanese coach Carlos Ortega on Tuesday.
Group B, Metz, Arènes
14:00 Tunisia vs Angola
An African continental clash with all the pressure on Tunisia who need to win in the first match of the final day of Group B. If they win, they will be on four points. They will hope that FYR Macedonia beat Iceland in the following game, to ensure their passage through to the eighth-finals.
Tunisia goalkeeper Makrem Missaoui said after his side threw away a five-goal lead in the last five minutes against Slovenia, which would have put the pressure on Iceland: “Normally, a five-goal lead with five minutes left means the game is over. I don’t understand. I’m so frustrated. We have been dreaming of qualifying for the next stage, now it’s a nightmare. We are now waiting for a gift from the Macedonian team.”
Angola goalkeeper Gilberto Victor Figueira said: “This a competition with a high level and we are seen as the ‘lowest team’. Our objective is to grow here – we continue our story and the competition whatever the match; our goal is to honour our country because we are proud to be Angolan.”
17:45 FYR Macedonia vs Iceland
FYR Macedonia have already qualified for the eighth-finals but they will hold the fate of both their opponents and Tunisia – if TUN beat Angola in the first game – in their hands as both teams’ qualification will depend on the result of this European clash.
Gunnar Steinn Jonsson (ISL) said ahead of the game: “It’s a final against Macedonia – we are putting all of our energy into that last game in the group.” His teammate Asgeir Orn Hallgrimsson echoed his thoughts: “Macedonia are going to be like a final game for us in the preliminary round. It will be a tough and very physical game.”
Both teams met at the 2013 IHF Men’s World Championship in Spain, in the preliminary round. Iceland won 23:19 (10:10) on 15 January with Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson top scorer on nine goals. They also met at the Men’s EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark with Iceland again beating the Macedonians (29:27), in the Main Round, Group I in Herning.
Match of the Day: 20:45 Spain vs Slovenia
Slovenia coach Veselin Vujovic – former IHF World Handball Player of the Year – speaks fluent Spanish after living in the country for many years as he played club handball for FC Barcelona (1988-1993) and BM Granollers (1993-1995) and coached Ciudad Real (2000-03).
Exactly one year ago the two sides met the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland, in what turn out to be an extremely tight encounter with both sides being inseparable after 60 minutes, the tie ended 24:24. With the top spot in the group up for grabs, one can expect more of the same in their Group B closing tie.
Slovenia celebrated three birthdays this week: physiotherapist Slavko Brezovnik (16/01/1971), line player Blaz Blagotinsek (17/01/1994) and head coach Veselin Vujovic (18/01/1961). Coach Vujovic will be hoping for the best possible belated birthday present with a win over La Roja!
Photo: Vincent Michel / IHF