ROUND REVIEW: World Championship host and Pan-American champions go for gold in Belgrade on Sunday after semi-final wins against Poland and Denmark
Serbia and Brazil face each other in the final
More than 20,000 spectators are expected on Sunday (17:15 hrs. local times) in Belgrade’s Kombank Arena for the final of the Women’s World Championship, when hosts Serbia face Brazil in the race for gold after both recorded two unexpectedly clear semi-final wins.
Serbia beat Poland 24:18 in a match attended by 18,236 spectators, a world record for women’s handball matches, while Brazil overpowered Denmark 27:21.
40 years and seven days after the Yugoslav women’s team became world champions in Belgrade for the first and only time, Serbia are going for gold in the same city.
Brazil are the second Non-European team in handball history to reach a final of a Women’s World Championship after Korea who became world champions in 1995.
The South American side kept their clean record of eight victories in eight matches and remained the only unbeaten team of the competition – in the preliminary round they beat hosts Serbia 25:23.
Like in the group phase, when the team of Danish-born coach Morten Soubak beat Denmark 23:18, Brazil were victorious again in the semi-final.
And like in 2011 at the World Championship in Brazil, when they were eliminated by France, Denmark lost a semi-final at a Women’s World Championships.
Poland – Serbia 18:24 (6:14)
A Serbian trio made their mark on the match – especially in the first half - and was the key for the eight-goal advantage already after 30 minutes:
Goalkeeper Katarina Tomasevic saved 12 Polish shots in only 23 minutes, team captain Andrea Lekic and the unstoppable line player Dragana Cvijic scored nine of 14 goals for the hosts.
On the other hand one figure explains the weak half-time result for Poland: They scored six goals from 29 shots in the first 30 minutes, and even missed to score a single goal for ten minutes.
Nothing changed in the first stage of the second half: Tomasevic shut up her shop and Poland needed eight minutes to score their first goal after the break.
During this period, Serbia had already decided the encounter by adding three more goals to their tally, leading 17:6. The Polish catch-up chase came too late to endanger an inspirational Serbia.
"Tonight we had a new world record attendance. I hope we will have one more on Sunday, when the hall will be completely full," said Serbian coach Sasa Boskovic.
Sanja Damnjanovic added: "I knew that we would make it to the end of this tournament." Wing player Katarina Krpez said: “We are still overwhelmed with what we have achieved, none of us can quite believe yet that we are in the World Championship final."
Brazil – Denmark 27:21 (14:10)
The 12 saves of goalkeeper Barbara Arenhart, the bigger power and the higher efficiency were the keys for the Brazilian victory.
Denmark lacked passion, inspiration and ideas in attack in the first half.
By punishing the Danish mistakes by counter-attack goals, Brazil easily forged ahead to 10:5 and seemed to be on the winner’s way when extending the gap to 20:13 in the 34th minute.
But then Denmark improved, Brazil were shaken, but did not fall in the crucial stage when the score stood at 22:19 because Arenhart was like a rock in goal.
When Daniela Piedade and Ana Rodriguez scored a double-strike to make it 26:20 with less than four minutes left on the clock, the deal was sealed, and Brazil are now heading for gold.
In 2011 on home court they finished fifth, now they will leave Serbia with at least a podium finish.
The Brazilian players cried tears of joy, hoping to go all the way: "Now we will make the last step. To win a medal is so important for us, for the Brazilian handball – )it's) the greatest day ever”, said Alexandra Nascimento, while her Hypo Niederösterreich teammate Barbara Arenhart added: "This is the most important day in my live. No! The most important day in my live will come on Sunday. We have our medal. Now we are looking for more."
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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