Flawless 7:0 run sends Sweden to semi-final
25 Jan. 2023
A 7:0 unanswered run that spanned over 11 minutes helped Sweden clinch their second consecutive semi-final berth at the IHF Men’s World Championship with a 26:22 win over Egypt, who have been eliminated at this stage of the competition for the third time in a row.
Sweden vs Egypt 26:22 (14:9)
Was the loss against Denmark in the last match of the main round just a blip on the radar, or were Egypt a bit in trouble after starting the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship with five wins in a row?
Well, the decisive answer was going to be delivered in the form of a match against Sweden in the Tele2 Arena in the capital of Stockholm, with the co-hosts of the championship being slightly favoured after entering the match on a six-match winning streak with exciting performances, underlined by the number of goals scored – 211 – the highest in the competition so far.
But the pressure and the decisive nature of the match did not influence Egypt’s preparation in the first 20 minutes of the match. “The Pharaohs” remembered that they took Denmark on penalties in the same phase of the competition two years ago and were not going to be afraid of playing in Sweden in front of over 17.000 fans.
Egypt had a clear plan in attack from the start: provide as many passes as possible in Mamdouh Shebib’s direction, as the line player totally dominated the match in the first 11 minutes, scoring four times from five shots, helping Egypt create a 6:4 lead, with goalkeeper Karim Hendawy also boasting a 50% saving efficiency.
Yet Sweden were no pushovers, despite providing only a 54% attacking efficiency in the first 20 minutes, with a totally disappointing display from right back Albin Lagergren, who missed his first three shots, all in one-on-one situations with Hendawy.
Whether it was by design or just pure coincidence, Sweden’s comeback was kickstarted by a timeout called by coach Glenn Solberg in the 22nd minute. From that minute, the Scandinavian side delivered a flawless performance, spearheaded by goalkeeper Andreas Palicka, who saved five shots in a row.
In fact, Egypt failed to score in the last seven minutes and 30 seconds of the first half and Palicka drew huge cheers from the Sweden fans present in the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, boasting a 48% saving efficiency. For Egypt, that was the pivotal moment of the match.
Not only did they fail to score for 11 minutes and 28 seconds, as the drought continued in the second half, but they also enabled Sweden to use a 7:0 run, powered by two goals each from Niclas Ekberg and Eric Johansson, to create an unassailable seven-goal lead, 16:7, with 27 minutes to go in the match.
With a visibly hobbled Yehia El-Deraa leading the attack – he was playing with a dislocated finger and shot only once at goal – Egypt looked to be lacking the creativity and efficiency to compete against Sweden. But then, Roberto García Parrondo happened.
The coach, who will leave his position after Poland/Sweden 2023, ushered in Hassan Kaddah in the match, with the towering left back becoming unstoppable. He scored four goals in quick succession and led a 5:1 run that cut the gap to only three goals (21:18) with 10 minutes to go.
Parrondo also tweaked the defensive system, which morphed from a traditional 6-0 to an ultra-aggressive 4-2, trying to stop Sweden’s buildup from the back line. And it worked pretty well until the co-hosts adapted and became more and more difficult to stop, as Lukas Sandell found the lane to score twice in quick succession.
With their experience, depth and efficiency, Sweden had too much for Egypt, who eventually crumbled under the pressure, missing key shot after key shot in front of an otherworldly Palicka, who was named the hummel Player of the Match once again after an extraordinary 13-save match which yielded a saving efficiency of 37%.
With a 26:22 win, Sweden, who used that incredible run to jump to the occasion, earned their second semi-finals berth in a row, which will also be played in Stockholm, while Egypt missed the chance to qualify for the semi-final for the third time in a row.
hummel Player of the Match: Andreas Palicka (Sweden)