Republic of Moldova finish Bulgaria 2023 with a win in the lowest-scoring game in the history of the IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship

30 Apr. 2023

Republic of Moldova finish Bulgaria 2023 with a win in the lowest-scoring game in the history of the IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship

The Republic of Moldova avoided their worst-ever finish at the IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship after securing a 21:14 win against Guatemala, sealing the ninth place with their second win in the last two days at Bulgaria 2023.

Placement Match 9/10

  • Republic of Moldova vs Guatemala 21:14 (8:5)

The two attacks really failed to get going early in the first half, and the trend continued throughout the whole first 30 minutes of the game, as Moldova’s strong defence was too much for a Guatemala side which looked out of gas after playing their fourth game in six days.

Only three players got on the scoresheet for Guatemala in the first half. Edwin Josue Martinez scored three out of his side’s five goals, with Guatemala posting a meagre 22% attacking efficiency in the first part.

It was a surprising turn of events. The Republic of Moldova relied only on inexperienced goalkeeper Serghei Buglis between the posts, with experienced Andrei Mitrofan taking place in the stands to give a chance to younger players to feature in this game.

But Buglis was one of Moldova’s heroes in the first part of the match, saving seven shots for an excellent 58% saving efficiency, with three of the five Guatemala goals coming after Martinez converted the penalties he shot.

However, the Republic of Moldova also failed to get their attack going, as their top scorers, Vlad Martalog and Vasil Vasilatii, only scored two goals between them. But the mantle was passed in this game to Maxim Sipulin, the right back who had four goals in the first 30 minutes, one less than the entire Guatemala team.

Therefore, it was no surprise that this was the lowest-ever scoring first half in the history of the IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship, with a total four goals lower than the previous record, set at Georgia 2019, when Bulgaria and Nigeria combined for 17 goals.

A 4:0 run to start the second half sealed the deal for the Republic of Moldova. Martalog and Sipulin combined for three of those goals, creating an unassailable 12:5 lead, with Guatemala failing to answer to what the Republic of Moldova engineered.

The Republic of Moldova doubled their number of goals scored in the first half in only 11 minutes in the second part of the game, as the gap went bigger and bigger, with Guatemala failing to respond properly and the turnovers piling up.

Eventually, the game ended with Moldova’s 21:14 win, also becoming the lowest-ever scoring game in the history of the competition, beating the previous record set by Great Britain and Cameroon at Kosovo 2015, when the African side took a 23:16 win, as the two teams combined for 39 goals. 

With the 21:14 win, the Republic of Moldova finished on the ninth place, the same spot they secured six years ago, at Bulgaria 2017, in the last edition of the IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship they took part in.

On the other hand, Guatemala finished their maiden edition of the competition on the 10th place, with one win and three losses. Still, the experience has been one of a kind for a team embodying the competition's purpose, helping players develop even further against tougher opposition.

Player of the Match: Serghei Buglis (Republic of Moldova)