Republic of Korea opened Round 4 for Group D with a decisive victory over Cameroon, securing their place in the 23rd IHF Women’s World Championship eighth-finals as they moved up to six points on the table. Serbia joined Korea on six points when they drew with The Netherlands in the second match of the day – a result that put the 2015 World Championship silver medallists on five points, placing them fourth after Round 4.
In the last match of the day on Wednesday, Germany continued their unbeaten run as they claimed a clear win against PR of China, thereby taking their points tally to seven while China remain on zero alongside Cameroon.
After four rounds in the preliminary phase, Group D’s four places in the eighth-finals are decided, making the last group match day all about table ranking. In Round 5 on Friday, PR of China and Cameroon will battle for fifth, The Netherlands and Germany will meet with the hosts hoping to retain their position on top of the table, and Serbia and Republic of Korea take the court. Both Serbia and Korea have the chance to claim first place in the group if the 2015 silver medallists overcome the home team.
Cameroon vs Republic of Korea 21:33 (6:16)
Despite a great performance from Cameroon goalkeepers Noelle Mben Mbediang and Berthe Abiabakon Onoukou, Republic of Korea had little trouble claiming another two points that set them on a tally of six as the preliminary round nears its end. After a level opening that saw the score at 3:3 after 10 minutes, Korea allowed their opponents only three more goals in the half, while they pulled ahead to create a 10-goal difference by the break.
“They are a lot more experienced than we are. We're here to learn. Technically and tactically the Koreans were far better,” said Cameroon assistant coach Serge Claude Magala. “When you play among the best in the world you can only learn.”
Mben played the first half in goal for Cameroon, finishing with a 36% save rate, while Abiabakon came in and saved two penalties in the first 30 minutes. Abiabakon replaced Mben between the posts for the second half, and continued the example set by Mben to record a 43% save rate for the match – including a total of three stops on penalties. Despite their strong performance in goal, it was clear the 13-time Asian champions would be the team to win the encounter early on even though they played a little below their usual pace.
“If we won today we could go to the round of 16, so our coach asked us to be very focused. All the players played very well, so we are happy,” said Korea centre back Hyesoo Song after the match.
Player of the Match presented by adidas: Sojeong YU (KOR)
Serbia vs The Netherlands 27:27 (15:15)
The clash between the 2013 and 2015 World Championship silver medallists delivered an exciting 60 minutes where the lead changed hands more than once, but a winner could not be found. The match showed varied defensive tactics and the depth of each squad’s line-up, as both coaches – Helle Thomsen for The Netherlands and Ljubomir Obradovic for Serbia – rotated extensively to arrive at a level score at both half- and full-time. Though almost every player of the 32 on the start list contributed their effort, there were some stand-out performances on Serbia’s side, including nine goals from Marina Dmitrovic (eight in the first half) and brilliant keeping from Marija Colic, who made
19 saves to record 42%.
“This was a real handball show. My team played very well,” said Serbia coach Obradovic. “We had two tough matches within two days and we showed a great performance. The future will belong to my team.”
In the first 30 minutes both teams took their turn holding a narrow lead, though neither could create a distance of more than two goals. Dmitrovic added her eighth goal right before the break to level the score, and after an initially stronger period from The Netherlands to open the second half, Serbia claimed the upper hand in the 40th minute and pushed ahead. The 2013 runners-up led by a steady one to three goals from that point, while The Netherlands worked hard to close the gap. After chasing for 20 minutes, the 2015 World Championship and EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists were rewarded with a 3:0 run to end the game, and Nycke Groot scoring the equaliser in the last second.
“We missed some chances and so I'm happy that we got a tie,” said The Netherlands back Jessy Kramer. “We can play better, and I know that we are on a good way to do so.”
The result means the teams split the points, with Serbia now on a tally of six and The Netherlands on five. Serbia are unbeaten in their Group D campaign, having recorded two wins and one other draw, against Germany in Round 3, while The Netherlands lost their opener to Korea before taking three victories.
Player of the Match presented by adidas: Marija COLIC (SRB)
Germany vs PR of China 24:9 (10:3)
Germany completely controlled the 60 minutes against PR of China, finishing with the expected victory to put their tally on seven points following three wins and one draw in the preliminary round. After the hosts created a 5:1 advantage by the end of the first quarter, it was clear they were in command and Germany coach Michael Biegler was able to use the match to practice different line-ups on court.
“We have a very small group who can play at this level and today they looked very tired,” said China coach Jesper Holmris. “At the moment we are saying to ourselves that the tournament starts for us now. First, we play Cameroon, then we have the President’s Cup.”
Clara Woltering stood strong in goal in the first half, even scoring her first goal for Germany with a long-range effort. Her work combined with the defence to allow only three goals for China in the first 30 minutes, before Katja Kramarczyk took her place and kept the high save rate for Germany to finish with an overall 68% goalkeeper efficiency.
"My team were very focused at the beginning and the defence was good, so the shots didn’t have quality – so it was easier for me,” said Woltering.
China coach Holmris tried different defensive systems throughout the match, but Germany were simply stronger. As they took a seven-goal lead into the break then held a 19:5 advantage with 15 minutes left, the outcome was decided.
Player of the Match presented by adidas: Clara WOLTERING (GER)