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Date: 4/9/2016
 

Tunisia and Poland both got their second wins in the IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament I at the ERGO Arena in Gdansk to book their tickets for Rio 2016 as the road to Brazil ends for FYR Macedonia and Chile.

FYR Macedonia vs. Tunisia 26:32 (10:17) – ERGO Arena, Gdansk, Poland

Two victories, one ticket – Tunisia added themselves to the Rio 2016 men’s handball competition after beating FYR Macedonia 32:26 in the opening match of day two in Gdansk.

Favourites going into the match due to their depth of experience at international tournaments, Tunisia will be hoping to better their quarter-final finish at London 2012 in Brazil, while the Macedonians will have to wait until Tokyo 2020 to get their first chance of Olympic glory.

Hafedh Zouabi’s side inflicted early damage on their opponents as they restricted Kiril Lazarov – and his team – to just two goals in the first nine minutes, going up 7:2 thanks to FC Barcelona’s Wael Jallouz and best player of the match, right wing Oussama Hosni, but also with a porous Macedonian defence resulting in Issam Tej, the big Tunisian pivot easily winning against Stojanche Stoilov in the battle of the 110kg pivots.

Tunisia were even pulling ahead despite serving two-minute suspensions and found themselves 10:3 up just before the 15-minute mark – despite Macedonian coach Ivica Obrvan sending Goce Georgievski out to man mark Jallouz after just 10 minutes.

The Macedonians were playing a 4-2 and 5-1 open defence at times but Marouen Maggaiz in the Tunisian goal made his mark, standing strong and even saving a 7m penalty from Lazarov.

But the Europeans came back to make it 10:6 and Obrvan tried to strengthen his defence with Borko Ristovski replaced by Nikola Mitrevski in goal, but it had no effect on the poor handling from his court players.

Tunisia stole the ball at will, scoring on the fast-break to make it +8 at 17:9 just before half-time with Lazarov setting up a full-court kempa at the buzzer to make it 17:10.

Half-time would be a welcome break for Obrvan’s side but nothing could inspire his troops to overcome such a deficit and try as they could, they could not turn the momentum in their favour, mainly being behind five goals for most of the second period, although coming close by three at 25:22 with less than 10 minutes remaining following a team time-out.

As the Macedonian players conceded defeat moments before the final buzzer and shook their opponent’s hands, the Tunisian squad celebrated wildly when the final result was confirmed and they went straight to Zouabi and threw him in the air repeatedly in ecstasy.

On this complete performance Tunisia will be more than a match for anyone in Rio, while FYR Macedonia - still in a state of shock, with Coach Obrvan announcing his resignation in the post-match press conference - will look to get their first win in Gdansk against Chile tomorrow (Sunday 10 April).

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas: Oussama HOSNI (TUN) – Right Wing

Poland vs. Chile 35:27 (19:13) – ERGO Arena, Gdansk, Poland

Hosts Poland thrilled a sold-out 10,000 crowd at the ERGO Arena in the northern city of Gdansk as they qualified for their first Olympic Games since 2008 in Beijing.

Their 35:27 win over the South Americans of Chile ensured that Talant Dujshebaev and his squad will need to get their passports ready and luggage packed for the trip to Rio 2016.

Already with a three-goal (10:7) lead in the first quarter, Poland, who rotated and rested many of their players from their six-goal win over FYR Macedonia yesterday, extended their lead to five (13:8) in the 21st minute as the tough opening 30 minutes paved the way for the home side to seal a win.

Towards the end of the half no fewer than four players were serving two-minute suspensions as the game became five-a-side and the ripped shirt of Krzysztof Lijewski was evidence of the fight Chile provided.

Mateo Garralda’s side knew a loss would mean the end of appearing at home continent Olympics and they fought hard to keep in touch with their European opponents but it was not to be as they found themselves -7 (26:19) with the last quarter remaining.

As Chile pulled it back to six and then five goals, Dujshebaev called a team time-out to settle his sides’ nerves with seven minutes remaining and after a double of fast-break strikes thanks to a tired Chile attack breakdown, Poland were nine goals in front (34:25) and dreaming of Brazil.


Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas: Michal SZYBA (POL) - Right Back

For further information on the Rio 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Gdansk, visit the Polish Handball Federation mini-site HERE.

You can also follow the events from Poland on Twitter (@ZPRP_official), Facebook and Instagram (@handball_phf).

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