Norway end 49-year wait, Brazil celebrate
14 Mar. 2021
After witnessing 75 goals tonight, Christian Berge finally broke the long wait for Norwegian men’s handball as the coach guided his side to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games easily beating Republic of Korea by 13 (44:31), to make it three wins out of three at the Tokyo Handball Qualification 2020 – Men’s Tournament 1 and finish top of their group.
With their qualification, Norway are now the first men’s side from the Scandinavian country to book a spot in the global sporting festival since Thor Ole Rimejorde led the men to the 1972 Munich edition, the first-time indoor handball made its appearance at the Games.
The result also means that Brazil will join Norway in Japan after they faced an anxious wait for a favour from their European rivals. Korea and Chile will have to now wait until Paris 2024 for their next chance to make an Olympic appearance.
Republic of Korea vs Norway 31:44 (16:24)
Going into this match, Korea had hope of qualifying through to their neighbouring country for an Olympic Games spot in July, but in the end, the quality of the Norwegians shone through.
The Europeans already had one foot in the Olympic Games but it was not mathematically secure ahead of this clash. They approached the match, which saw them as strong favourites in a relentless manner, going two goals clear after just four minutes (4:2) and doubling it (10:6) by the 12th minute.
By half-time Norway had scored 24 of the 40 first half goals as Korea were unable to cope with the line play of their opponents, fittingly through Norway captain Bjarte Myrhol who ended up the joint top-scorer for his with seven goals in just 11 minutes. It was a timely reminder of his quality which has been a part of the team for 19 years and a reminder of the Norwegian quality from six metres which saw an incredible 95% success rate from that position.
Norway were ruthless, with all but one of their court players who had minutes registering a goal in this high-scoring affair. They turned over the ball just twice, compared to 13 from their opponents to dominate this win, putting an end to the painful experience at Egypt 2021 which had preoccupied their Norwegians ahead of this tournament and that 49-year-old break between Olympic Games.
“It's a childhood dream for everybody who is a professional athlete, it doesn't matter which sport or which nationality, to advance to an Olympic Games is just the biggest thing you can do as an athlete,” said Norway left back Sander Sagosen to ihf.info.
“So, it's my first time at an Olympic Games and it's our first time in 49 years. I'm just really hyped about the atmosphere going down there [to Tokyo] with this team, with this group.
“The world championship in Egypt wasn't our best [performance]. We have so much anger to put it back [right now] and show the world that we are a good handball team and what we did this weekend was world class – we had no real threats.”
Photo: Stefan Ivanovic/RSCG