Norway sent Montenegro out of the Olympics, while Romania is back in the race for the quarter-finals
August 13, 2016
Norway qualified for the quarter-finals and sent Montenegro out of the Olympic tournament on Day 4, where Romania reported back as a candidate for the quarters; Russia made sure to win Group B, and France sent Korea packing.
By Peter Bruun
MATCH OF THE DAY
Montenegro vs Norway 19:28 (11:16)
The match was a remake of the 2012 Olympic final that Norway won. While Norway recovered following the initial loss against Brazil, recording two victories, it was “last call” for pointless Montenegro to keep their last quarter-final hope alive.
Realizing that Bojana Popovic did not become the asset to the Montenegrin team, as national coach Dragan Adzic had hoped, he axed the veteran player from his squad ahead of the match and replaced her by Marija Jovanovic.
It is not common to see Thorir Hergeirsson take a timeout after only nine minutes. However, this was the case, as Montenegro had caught up with Norway’s 3:0 lead, and the Icelandic coach was anything but happy with the way his team let their opponent back into the game. The timeout worked well.
Norway went back to work, building their lead right away. And while Dragan Adzic was experimenting with his lineup, the Norwegians took what already looked like a deciding margin of difference (13:6).
At the half, Norway was in full control of the match, leading five goals.
The first 30 minutes of the game were not intense at all, yet intensity dropped even further after the break because of the large difference in strength between the two teams – a difference, we are absolutely not accustomed to see between Norway and Montenegro.
Despite lacking concentration at times, Norway stayed in full control and cruised to an easy nine-goal victory.
Norway are ready for the quarter-final and may still hope for the group win, while Montenegro can book the flight back home after their last group match.
It is difficult to judge Norway based on this match, simply because the opposition was so weak. However, the general impression of the Norwegian squad after their first four group matches is, that they are back on track after their surprising loss against Brazil in the first game of the competition.
Apparently, that defeat was a wake-up call for Loke & Co. and even though they are not yet at the level they showed at the World Championship back in December, they must be considered favorites for the gold medal.
For Montenegro, it’s time to reflect.
Being sent out of the Olympics already after the group phase is just as disappointing as it is surprising. The biggest letdown when looking at Team Montenegro is the absence of will power and determination – attributes that usually are the hallmark of Dragan Adzic´s team. Such characteristics seem to have vanished almost completely.
Other Matches in Group A
Angola vs Brazil 24:28 (13:13)
Both teams suffered their first loss in the previous round, and while Angola´s defeat against Norway came expected; Brazil losing points against Spain was more of a surprise.
It was exciting to see, which of the two Portuguese-speaking teams would “rise from the ashes”.
Angola was leading most of the time during the first half, but the last 30 minutes belonged to Brazil – completely.
With six points, Amorim & Co, are ready for the quarter-finals – an objective that Angola still have not given up on.
Romania vs Spain 24:21 (13:11)
Romania boosted their quarter-final hopes, while Spain now will have to worry about their destiny in the tournament, as both teams sit on four points before the final match day.
Despite losing a six-goal lead in the second half, Romania still managed to take both points because of a great finish, changing a 21:21 stand-off into a three goal win.
With nine goals, Cristian Neagu once again proved her enormous importance to the Romanian team.
Sweden vs Netherlands 29:29 (16:13)
14 goals on 15 attempts from Nathalie Hagman played a crucial part in Sweden reaching the quarter-final, drawing for a second time in a row.
The lead changed several times, but with Sweden in the driver´s seat in the end, before the Netherlands equalized in the dying seconds of the match.
Sweden now have five points versus four for the Netherlands.
Russia vs Argentina 35:29 (20:18)
Russia were already in the quarter-final ahead of the match, but that did not make them less focused against the crew from South America – at least not when in attack.
Argentina managed to hang with Russia for long periods of the match – they even took the lead a couple of times in the second half – before Russia set the record straight, securing first place in Group B.
South Korea vs France 17:21 (11:11)
At Olympic tournaments, Korea´s female handball team has never done any worse than reaching the semi-final – until now.
Because of the defeat against France, Korea will be leaving Rio prematurely, after their last match on Sunday. One point is all they have achieved at the 2016 Olympic games so far.
Rumors had it that Korea would show up with a well-rehearsed seven-against-six play in their attack, but we never saw any of that.
Following an equal first half, France created the necessary margin of difference after the break, and “Les Bleus” are now ready for the quarter-final.