Host nation elect to play their group matches in a handball stronghold
alongside Denmark and Brazil
The eagerly awaited draw for the IHF 2013 Women’s World Championship
produced four vastly entertaining preliminary stage groups, with hosts Serbia
electing to play their games in the first stage of the competition in the
southern city of Niš, where they will meet Japan in their opening match on 6 December.
The Serbians, who will be aiming for their first medal as an independent
nation in women’s handball, pitted themselves against former world champions
Denmark and the vastly improved Brazil, as well as China, Japan and Algeria in
A very strong Group A
comprises European champions Montenegro, Netherlands, France, South Korea,
Democratic Republic of Congo and Dominican Republic, while Group C includes
reigning world champions Norway, Poland, Angola, Spain, Argentina and Paraguay.
Finally, a delicately
balanced Group D should produce fascinating contests between Hungary, Germany,
Romania, Czech Republic, Tunisia and Australia.
Aided by top Serbian national
team players Sanja Damnjanović and Jelena Erić, chairman of the International
Handball Federation’s Organising and Competition Commission Leon Kalin
conducted the draw and expressed the body’s satisfaction with the results of
the IHF’s inspection of the four Serbian cities hosting the December 6-22 event
– Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and Zrenjanin.
„I would like to onpass the gratitude of the IHF President, Dr. Hassan
Moustafa, to the Serbian Handball Federation for organising the preparations
for the World Championship in a highly professional manner,“ Kalin told
reporters and dignitaries in the Belgrade City Hall.
„We have had the opportunity to meet the organising committees in all the
cities and I must say we are really happy with the state of
the preparations and the quality of the people in charge,“ he added.
Velimir Marjanović, the Serbian Handball
Federation president, and Serbian Sports Minister Alisa Marić made it clear
what the priorities of the competition were.
„The draw marks the start of the race for the top spot in the Women’s World
Handball Championship but no matter who wins the gold medal, fair-play and
friendship have to be the real winners of the event,“ said Marjanović.
„Serbia will once again be the centre of the handbal world in December, as
it hosts 24 teams from all continents in what will surely be a great event. We
want all participants to feel welcome and at home in our four cities hosting
the tournament,“ Mrs Marić stressed.
Erić and Damjanović pointed out just how eager they were to be among the
„I have plenty of desire and motivation to win a medal in my last major
tournament for the national team, it would be great to end my international
career with a podium finish,“ said Erić.
Damnjanović added: „I think we have it in us to win a medal because we will
have our fans behinds us and that should be a big advantage over the other
These are the groups for the preliminary round:
GROUP A (in Belgrade)
GROUP B (in Niš)
GROUP C (in Zrenjanin)
GROUP D (in Novi Sad)
The four best ranked teams of each group will qualify for the eight-finals, followed by the quarter-finals which will be both played in Belgrad and Novi Sad. The finals will take place in Belgrade.
Text by Zoran Milosavljević
Photos taken by Andrej Cukic