Opening Day at World Cup 2015
December 6, 2015
Unpleasant, nasty, dreadful and disgusting were the terms that came to mind if you had to spend the day outside Jyske Bank Boxen, on opening day of the women World Championship 2015, in Herning. Pouring rain and a terrible storm was hitting the mid-section of Jylland. Inside the hall it could not have ben different. The Danish fans that filled the arena almost to capacity when the home team took the court against Japan, arranged a warm welcome for all protagonists including, IHF president, Dr. Hassan Moustafa and singer Zindy – she performed her theme song “Heart of Handball”, before Line Jorgensen + Co went to work.
The Host – Denmark vs Japan 30:21 (17:11)
Before the Match
There was little doubt that the game against the representative from the Far East would be an ideal opportunity on opening day. Not too weak but certainly in no position to pose a serious challenge for the hosting team. A Danish victory was never in question. But how would Louise Burgaard (knee injury) and Lotte Grigel (after departure from Esbjerg without any competitive match experience) show up?
A goal differential of nine speaks for itself. The crew of head coach Masamichi Kuriyama was lacking the necessary forces in his back-court to threaten Denmark properly. It was as simple as that. Japan was able to hang with the home team for the initial ten minutes before the squad of coach Klavs Bruun Jorgensen began to pull away for good. The crowd used Denmark’s only soft period during the second half, as an opportunity to get a serious La-Ola wave going and the rest is history. Led by a well performing Lotte Grigel. Denmark’s win was never in jeopardy.
Player of the Match
Stine Jorgensen – she was selected as Denmark’s best athlete of the day. Her performance stuck out from a unified team effort.
Coming up: Denmark’s encounter with one of Africa’s representatives – Tunisia. It will be just another stepping stone for the team in red and white en route to more difficult task against, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro.
Elsewhere at World Cup’15 in Denmark
Three things were impressive in the opening match of Group D in Frederikshavn. One – the fact that five Puerto Rican fans had found their way to Arena Nord. Two – the enthusiasm of the Puerto Rican players and the fact that 35 Romanian fans kept up the volume, no matter how superior their heroines were. After the first half, the most exciting question was, if Puerto Rico would reach double-digits. Eventually they did, as Romania slowed down and lost a bit of concentration. Romania vs Puerto Rico 47:15 (23:3)
Kazakhstan´s neon colored outfits were shining in Arena Nord, but that was just about all, radiating from the Asian squad. Spain had just as little trouble as expected and cruised to an outsized win. Spain vs. Kazakhstan 30:10 (16:5)
Game of the Day: Norway vs Russia 25:26 (11:14)
Before the Match
The two teams drew 26:26 in a warm-up match just one week before the tournament. Yet, there was a bit of doubt where both teams actually stood – Norway in particular. Until a few hours before the game there was doubt about participation of Norway´s right-back, Nora Mørk who had been ill. She played from the start, though.
Norway got the better start and was leading by one or two goals most of the time. One of the big topics of discussion before the competition was the decision of Norway’s coach, Thorir Hergeirsson, “axing” Katrine Lunde. What would it really mean in the context of a World Cup? The short answer, Kari Aalvik Grimbø did so well at the beginning that Lunde was not really missed. Not in this game. Russia met Norway with an aggressive and flexible defense, changing between 4-2 and 5-1 formations. Yet, it did not cause the Norwegian attack much trouble at the start. As half time approached, Russia’s coach Trefilov seemed to have found the right lineup, when his crew changed a 10:9 deficit into a 13:10 lead.
Just as in the first period, Norway got off to the better start but the rest of the match was close, with Russia being one-goal ahead most of the time and eventually, all the way including a thrilling finish. With one minute left to play, right-wing Anna Vyakhereva made it 26:25 for Russia. On the Norwegian attack that followed, Russia´s goalkeeper Anna Sedoykina denied the shot from a wide-open Nora Mørk with 45 seconds left – game over.
The moment when Anna Seydokina saved the final shot from Nora Mørk – she caught the ball between her hand and her left thigh.
Rumors had it that Norwegians would not make it to their team´s first game as several ferries across the Skagerak had been cancelled due to heavy winds. Still, the arena was nearly full with Norwegian supporters, who turned the match into a home game for their team but in the end their heroic and noisy efforts were not enough.
The result puts Russia in a favorable position in the group, and the team confirmed that they should definitely be seen as a serious World Cup contender this time around. Norway is already under. The defeat may result in not winning the group. Given the make-up of Group C (Norway’s potential contenders), a rather difficult 1/8 final could await.
Not doubt – the squad from France is the team of the moment. Allison Pineau & Co. scored an impressive win against Germany and is off to the races at World Cup’15. A 30:20 (16:7) victory speaks for itself – loud and clear.
/ J. Schutz