Danes oust Germans to reach handball semis
The Danish women’s handball team continued their startling run at the IHF World Championship in Serbia after beating Germany 31-28 in a hard-fought quarter-final thriller last night in Novi Sad.
The Danes trailed by two goals with ten minutes remaining but went on a three-goal run – all scored by Trine Østergaard – to put them ahead for good. Kristina Kristiansen finished as Denmark’s top scorer with seven goals in the match, while Østergaard netted six. Tournament top scorer Susann Müller notched 12 for the Germans.
Coach Jan Pytlick said that the key to success against the Germans was the same toughness and self-determination that the team has shown throughout the tournament.
“I think that the team is more mature. We didn’t play well against Brazil and the Montenegro game was not a pretty sight, but we still battled our way through,” Pytlick told metroXpress newspaper. “That’s what happened today too. We believed in getting a result all the way.”
Brazil up next
The Danes were not among the favourites to win this year, being among the youngest teams in the tournament and fielding a squad in which a quarter of the players had never been in a major international tournament. But after qualifying from the group stage in third place – they lost to Brazil and Serbia – the Danes surprised the reigning European champions Montenegro in a 22-21 thriller in Monday’s round of 16.
Up next for the Danes in the semi-finals on Friday night is their nemesis from the group stage, Brazil, which beat Hungary in the quarterfinals. Pytlick hopes that the result will be different from the 18-23 beating they endured at the hands of the Brazilians earlier in the competition.
“Last time they had a good hold on us, but they won’t be getting another start going ahead 9-2 like they did last time,” Pytlick said. “This is the final for us and if we play at this level and defend a bit better, then we can beat Brazil too.”
Whatever happens, Denmark will definitely be represented in the final on Sunday. Brazil’s coach, Morten Soubak, is Danish, as is Poland’s coach, Kim Rasmussen, who will try to guide his team to the final past the Serbian hosts in the other semi-final.
The Danish ladies have not won a World Cup since 1997 and haven’t won a major tournament since winning Olympic gold in 2004 in Athens. Their semi-final game against Brazil can be seen at 20:45 on TV2 on Friday night.