MATCH REVIEW: Brazil win thrilling final of Women’s World Championship against hosts Serbia, while Denmark take the bronze medal
Samba rules in Belgrade
When at 19:19 hrs. local time on Sunday evening 'We are the champions' was played in Belgrade, the Brazilian players danced samba on the winner’s podium, which even seemed to be too small for their dancing activities.
For the second time a non-European women’s handball team has become women’s world champions after Korea achieved the feat in 1995.
And on Sunday Brazil did not only beat their opponents, but also the world record crowd of 19.467 fans who supporting their Serbian team in Belgrade's 'lion’s den'.
Brazil had been the only non-European team from the quarter-finals onwards, but the squad of Danish-born head coach Morten Soubak made it all the way.
"We cannot believe, what has happened," was basically what all players said, similarly not realising what they earned.
Twice – at the 2011 World Championship and the 2012 Olympic Games - they had been eliminated in the quarter-finals, now they have even more than they had hoped for in Serbia: Gold!
On the other hand the Serbian players kept their heads up high after losing the trilling final 20:22 (11:13).
"We are delighted despite losing the final and feeling a bit of pain for not winning the gold medal. Brazil were a tiny notch better than us and deserved to be crowned world champions," said All Star Team member Sanja Damnjanovic.
Supported by their fans, Serbia had started a brilliant catch-up chase in the finals after they were down 11:16.
Five minutes before the end they equalised at 19:19, but in some thrilling dying minutes they missed the two decisive shots when the score stood at 20:20, while the ice-cold Pan-American champions netted twice and eventually received the World Championship trophy.
Serbia wanted to write history by becoming world champions 40 years and seven days after Yugoslavia had won the World Championship Final in Belgrade.
But after the Serbian men lost the EHF EURO 2012 final against Denmark in Belgrade, also the women missed their dream title.
Brazil were not only deserved winners of a final but of the entire tournament as they won all their nine matches until the final, including a 25:23 win against Serbia in the preliminary round.
"We are honest, we are proud. This is another big step for Brazilian handball, probably the biggest up to now. We played in a fantastic arena, and as I heard there were only few shouting for Brazil.
"But concerning the pressure, my team was able to handle it quite good," said Brazilian coach Morten Soubak, who is also the coach of six of his national team players at EHF Champions league record winners Hypo Niederösterreich.
For World Handball Player Alexandra Nascimento Sunday was "the best day" in her life.
"I’m so happy. Our heart was our strength today. It was an extra motivation to play at this great atmosphere.”
And goalkeeper Barbara Arenhart, All Star Team member like Eduarda Amorim, did not believe what had happened.
"I’m World Champion; I’m in the All Star Team. It is incredible. Tomorrow I will wake up and if my medal is on my bedside table than this day was not a fairy tale. Best I leave the medal hanging around my neck tonight."
Serbian goalkeeper Katarina Tomasevic had mixed emotions: “On the one hand I am delighted that we have won the silver medal but on the other, I am sad that we failed to capture the title.
"It was a close match but we made too many unforced errors. This is a massive success for us and an incentive to work even harder to win the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro."
Kristiansen scores 10 to see Denmark celebrate
And Rio is also one dream goal of Brazil and the young Danish team, which took the bronze medal in Belgrade after beating Poland in the bronze medal match 30:26.
It took 16 years until the Danish women’s team is back on a podium of a World Championship.
In 1997 the Danes became World Champions in Germany, later they lost three bronze medal matches in 2001, 2005 and 2011.
And the Danes had one match winner: Kristina Kristiansen, who scored eight of her ten goals after the break, initialising the eventually successful Danish catch-up chase.
Poland managed to keep their three-goal advantage until 20:17 in the 38th minute before Kristiansen turned the match around nearly on her own.
With Poland running out of steam, Denmark scored an impressive 7:1 series to make it 24:21 and eventually decided the match in their favour.
Despite the defeat, the fourth rank is the best ever World Championship position for Poland.
“During the second half, Denmark showed a great attacking performance. We knew what the Danish were doing, but they did it so fast that we were always one step behind," said Danish-born Poland coach Kim Rasmussen.
His counterpart and countryfellow Jan Pytlick was satisfied: "In the second half maybe we played our best handball in this tournament.
"This medal is very important also for the clubs, the federation and the fans in Denmark. It is quite a long time ago that we were as successful as we are now.”
All Star Team:
Goalkeeper: Barbara Arenhart (Brazil)
Top scorer: Susann Müller (Germany/62 goals)
Photos: Uros Hocevar / IHF
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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