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Date: 7/26/2017
 

Just 14 seconds remained on the clock when, under immense pressure from an Algerian crowd supporting their neighbours, Tunisia right back Anouar Ben Abdallah rose to bury the ball in the net of Icelandic goalkeeper Gretar Gudjonsson to make it 28:27 to Ben Abdallah’s side and eventually take an eighth-final win over Iceland at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship.

Two seconds after the strike Iceland called a time out and the tension inside the Halle Omnisport Harcha Hocine rose again. The restart saw the play clock reset to 29:57, leaving three seconds for an attack but Iceland could not get their shot off and Tunisia took the victory.

“I cried for the first time after a game,” said Ben Abdallah immediately after the game. “With this win for the national team I cannot put my feelings into words; I cannot describe my happiness. Even though I scored the last goal, it was teamwork which made us win. 

“I felt like I was going to die in that time,” continued the right back about the last three seconds. “I was afraid I would make a mistake and we’d lose, but from now we are only preparing for the next match; there is no time to celebrate, we are thinking only of winning.”

Tournament top-scorer Skander Zaied was also full of emotion after the game. “We were concentrated from the first second in the game, right until the end - not just the last three second,” he said in the mixed zone straight from the court, complete with a bloodied and bruised head, such was the physicality of playing.

“It was the first time we felt this pressure and the first I have experienced it in my life - and it was in a world championship. We are going to go continue to go forward.”

For coach Mohamed Ali Sghir, who has experienced a variety of tournaments as both a player and coach the win meant something special to him as, in floods of tears at the end, he had to compose himself before speaking to the media.

“My crying is done now,” said Sghir to IHF.info after spending five minutes in his teams’ changing room after the match. “They were happiness tears because it was the first time for this for us and we are a young team – I will leave them in there so they can celebrate - but up until dinner.

“I’m already thinking about the next match, my work is done here, so they can celebrate by themselves and my work begins now for the next game.

“Iceland was a hard game mentally,” he continued. “We were playing very tactically because in defence they move easily. We defended 6:0 and had to shoot from far as they don’t move a lot and have a rock-solid defence.”

The win was the first for Sghir’s side in three matches after a loss to Spain and draw against Russia and Tunisia and was the only option today.

“I have just 24 hours to get my players back to the reality that they have another game to play,” he explained. “I hope we are going to work as well as this match and I hope we will win.”

Interviews translated by Tassadit Hamel

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