While Sweden had
no problems in earning their first victory in their opening match against
Tunisia, Spain had to struggle hard and needed a brilliant catch-up chase to
beat Serbia in the second session of today’s men Olympic handball tournament.
Sweden – Tunisia 28-21 (16-11)
a 12-year absence from the Olympic Games, three-time Olympic silver
medallists Sweden started their comeback campaign with a well-deserved 28-21
(16-11) victory over African champions Tunisia on Sunday 29 July for two
important points in their race for a place in the quarterfinals.
took control after a series of five consecutive goals made it 11-7 in the 21st
minute. Playmaker Dalibor DODER (SWE), Sweden's top scorer with eight goals,
and line player Fredrik PETERSEN (SWE) took the initiative.
top scorer Oussama BOUGHANMI (six goals) was unstoppable in front of the
Scandinavian defence, but lacked support.
after the start of the second half Sweden increased their margin to seven goals
at 18-11, but the Tunisian resistance remained strong. With four
consecutive counter-attack goals, the North Africans were back on track and
working hard to level the match.
sides defended steadfastly in their man-to-man fights at the six-metre line
and following spectacular saves from goalkeeper Mattias ANDERSSON,
Sweden became dominant again, with only ANDERSSON’s Tunisian counterpart
Marouen MAGGAIZ preventing the game from running away from his side.
was outgunned in the end, however, and Sweden clinched the match
with a strike from Kim ANDERSSON.
"We didn't have a magic solution for
this game against Sweden. We knew it would be tough playing against the very
strong Swedes and we just had to get on with it. We totally expected such
a physical match. We obviously cannot become miraculously stronger in just two
days, when we face Iceland, yet we will try to work on the elimination of our
major errors in the Sweden game, such as attacking too much and committing too
beginning of the game I felt I was very concentrated. However, as the game went
on I found it more difficult, particularly the amount of goals the Swedes
scored on second balls. This made me ask myself questions, and it was a
psychological blow. In the previous matches, we have had excellent results by
losing through only one or two goals against some excellent teams such as
France. However in this match it didn't go quite so well and the margin
was much larger. The team has a lot of young players who do not have much
experience. These young players need to work a lot."
"We had great respect for Tunisia because they
are a dangerous team with some very good players, but we were able to match
them in skill and physicality. It is very satisfying starting the Olympic Games
in this way. The support we had from the fans was fantastic. "This win
is a good start but there is a long, long way to go - many tough games
ahead. We play Great Britain next and we will treat them with the same
respect as France or any of the top teams."
"We are very
pleased. We played with lots of energy and lots of passion. It was very
physical; we knew from the start it would be. It was important to get a good
start. It was very good defensively. We helped each other out and it was tight
in the centre. Defence is our strength. "We have never played or seen them
play so our preparation will have to be the same as always. It's important we
go into it with the same energy."
Spain – Serbia 26-21 (10-14)
Spain has won
their crucial opening game against Serbia in the men's handball competition
Top scorers were
Momir ILIC (SRB) with six goals and Jorge MAQUEDA, Daniel SARMIENTO and Viktor
TOMAS with four goals each for Spain.
collective stood extremely well in defence before the break, cooperating
perfectly with goalkeeper Darko STANIC (SRB). The Spaniards found it hard
to find their way through the wall from the 10th minute right up until the
strategy was the base for the Serbian counter-attacks, which turned the game
from a Spanish 6-4 lead into a 14-10 halftime lead for Serbia.
changed after the break. Spanish coach Valero RIVERA seemed to have found the
right words in his half-time speech. His players turned the game around in 10
minutes, mostly by counter-attacks, to level at 16-16, while the Serbians failed
too often against veteran Spanish goalkeeper Jose IBANEZ HOMBRADOS (ESP).
With the score at
20-20, Serbia lost their rhythm completely, missing four consecutive chances
and inviting Spain to help themselves to four successfully completed
counter-attacks. A double strike by Jorge MAQUEDA (ESP) and further
Spanish goals from Christian UGALDE and Daniel SARMIENTO opened the gates
to a highly important victory.
In the last
minutes, a triple save by HOMBRADOS ended the Serbian hopes for a
successful start to London 2012. The two points will boost the Spanish
confidence for Tuesday's match against European champions Denmark, a
rematch of the 2012 European championship semifinal.
The next Serbian
task, against Croatia on Tuesday 31 July, is even more difficult.
Veselin VUKOVIC (SRB)
think we made an excellent first-half. I suppose it was our lack of experience
for this kind of match. We made too many technical errors and there were too
many fast breaks that were difficult to defend. But I was happy with the first
half but very disappointed with the second half. Our next opponent Croatia have
players with two gold medals and they have a very good chance to win but we
will try to repeat our semifinal victory at the EURO in Serbia.”
Valero RIVERA LOPEZ (ESP)
first ten minutes, we were not great but our defence wasn't bad. The defence
was much better in the second half and there were better balls played. We were
able to break through the Serbian defence. Our defence wasn't bad in the first
half and it was much better in the second half. The other team lost faith in
attack. The goalkeeper is an important part of any team. Hombrados is the
leader of the team. He was able to show that.
Victor TOMAS (ESP)
always very important to win the first game in a competition. Serbia are a big
team, the second best in Europe. We will take each game step by step. We will
do when we play Denmark but we could win both matches and still go out."
"We had most of the match in
our hands. I can’t even think now where we made the mistakes. "It was
the first game of the Olympics and Spain was not that good in the first half,
but they managed to find themselves up in the second half and were better than
us. Our group is a pretty tough one, every match will be hard, but games
between us and Croatia are very intense and we think it will be very