Serbia power through to main round with two points

17 Jan. 2023

Serbia power through to main round with two points

Serbia secured their second win in three matches at Poland/Sweden 2023, 34:24 against Qatar, to end the preliminary round on a high and take two points into the main round, where they face Norway, the Netherlands and Argentina.

Group B

Qatar vs Serbia 24:34 (14:17)

With both teams qualified for the main round, the only question was who would take the points to the next phase of the competition or if they would split in case of a draw. Because after Qatar and Serbia won against Algeria and lost against Germany, their meeting became crucial, a competition-defining match.

Serbia had plenty to offer with their sturdy defence and creative attack led by Lazar Kukić. Still, Qatar proved they were no pushovers against Germany when they cut the gap to a single goal with nine minutes to go, pressing the European powerhouse until the end.

It was also a battle between two Spanish coaches – as Serbia are led by Toni Gerona and Qatar by Valero Rivera – who knew each other well but still prepared some surprises for each other, hence the fast and balanced start of the match, which saw the two sides tied after 11 minutes, 8:8.

Suddenly, Serbia stepped up their defence and Qatar started slowing down, which resulted in a 4:0 run for the European side, powered by three goals from right wing Bogdan Radivojević, who returned in superb form for his side after scoring only five goals in the first three matches.

Yet Qatar still had the experience and the firepower to bounce back. Engineering their own 4:0 run, with centre back Abdelrahman Tarek Abdalla running the show, the Asian champions were still in with a shout as the first half ended, cutting the gap to only three goals, 17:14.

While Qatar do not lack experience, Serbia are more versatile than they are, which was clearly evident in the second half. Coming back from an injury and making his debut at Poland/Sweden 2023, goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev took over from Vladimir Cupara and had an amazing start to the championship.

In just 15 minutes, Milosavljev saved six shots for 67%, entering the minds of Qatar’s players who simply could not beat him. With another 4:0 run from Serbia early in the second half, the gap jumped to seven goals, 22:15, and it was game over for Valero Rivera’s side.

The gap went even bigger as Serbia pulled no punches despite having two players disqualified in the match – Dragan Pechmalbec and Jovica Nikolić. Eventually, the European side clinched their second win in as many matches, 34:24, celebrating a result that was thoroughly deserved at the end of the match.

With the preliminary round now complete, the two teams will stay in Katowice for the main round, with Norway, the Netherlands and Argentina joining from Group F. Germany won group Group E and will start with four points, while Serbia will start with two and Qatar with zero points.

Despite that, Serbia proved to be a strong opponent for any side and their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals are not over yet, as a clean sweep in the main round would secure them a place in the quarter-finals.

hummel Player of the Match: Dejan Milosavljev (Serbia)