Uruguay
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Uruguay
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Uruguay

Uruguay

Team Players

Team Info

Uruguay ended the last IHF Men’s Beach Handball World Championship distraught – their 5/6 placement match loss against Qatar at Greece 2022 costing them a spot at the then planned 2022 ANOC World Beach Games, set to take place in Bali.

After losing their opener against Croatia (0-2) on the Greek sand in Heraklion two years ago, they surprised many - if not themselves - when they took down Spain 2-1 in their second match, swiftly followed by a 2-0 victory over debutants Ecuador.

This set up main round games against the USA, Greece (both won 2-1) and Argentina (lost 1-2) to make it through to the quarter-finals where they took eventual silver medallists Denmark to a shoot-out but lost 6:9.  Again they beat Spain in the 5-8 placement round, before that loss to Qatar for fifth (0-2, 18:19, 16:18)

But fast-forward a few months in 2022 and those thoughts changed to just the disappointment of not finishing inside the world top five after the event in Bali was cancelled at short notice.

It is no doubt that not only the established beach circuit in Uruguay has reaped dividends for the Uruguay players, but it can also be attributed to the friendly – and working – relationship with both Argentina and Brazil, allowing the seamless exchange of coaching and playing amongst the three, established South American beach handball nations.

But the fact that Uruguay can be disappointed with failing to make the top five behind such behemoths as Qatar, Croatia and Denmark highlights just how far a country like them have come thanks to stability, focus and some magical players.

Standing head and shoulders at the top of the pile is the enigmatic Santiago Rodriguez, the heartbeat of the South American team, joint-fourth top-scorer at Greece 2022 (135 points) and nominated to be part of the IHF Beach Handball Showcase on the sidelines of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Again, Rodriguez and his side finished third at their continental qualifying event – the 2024 SCAHC Men’s South and Central America Beach Handball Championship, held in April in Paraguay’s capital city Asunción – to qualify for a world championship, following the same route for Greece 2022.

They begun and ended their campaign with 2-0 victories against Chile, their second coming in the all-important 3/4 placement match – effectively a play-off for China 2024 due to the SCAHC continent being granted an extra performance place for the event thanks to the final ranking spots at Greece 2022 from Brazil (3rd) and their own sixth place.

And six was the number again as their second victory over Chile in Asunción meant they would qualify through to their sixth, consecutive appearance on the global stage. Initially, Chile thought they had taken the first set to a golden goal, equalising with just a few seconds left to make it 18:18, but from the restart a half-court long-ranger snuck past the Chilean goalkeeper for a single point, Uruguay taking the set 19:18 with just one second remaining.

More drama was to come in the second set with regulation time ending at 12:12. In the golden goal period, Uruguay won the throw-off but turned the ball over to their opponents. However, the Uruguay defence stood firm, defending the Chilean shot. As they went down the other end, Chile saw their second attack saved, but saw the ball turned over to them and, this time, they did not make any mistake, shooting home to take the extra period 14:12, win the game, take bronze and grab a place at China 2024. In between the Chile games Uruguay beat Peru and Paraguay 2-0, but lost to Argentina 1-2, via a 12:13 shoot-out.

Most recently, Uruguay appeared in the opening stage of the 2024 IHF Beach Handball Global Tour in Brazil last month which featured Uruguay’s entire China 2024 preliminary group, with Germany, Qatar and the United States of America involved, alongside the host nation, Brazil.

And it proved to be a disappointing tournament for the Uruguayans as they lost their first four games, against Germany (0-2), the USA (1-2), Brazil (0-2) and Qatar (0-2), before turning it around in their final preliminary game, defeating Argentina 2-1 (8:16, 17;16, SO 7:6) and then securing fifth with a 2-0 (18:14, 19:14) victory over the USA, thanks to 14 points from Juan Sanchez.

With losses against all three of their opponents in the past few weeks, Uruguay will need to turn it around for China 2024 if they are to achieve their dream of ending up on a global podium.

Coach: Gaston Pedro Balletto Martinez

Key Players: Santiago Rodriguez, Fernando Sequeira, Andres Miranda Rodriguez

Qualification information: 2024 SCAHC South and Central America Beach Handball Championships – 3rd

History in Tournament: 2004-2006: DNQ, 2008: 9th, 2010: DNQ, 2012: 11th, 2014: 9th, 2016: 10th, 2018: 15th, 2022: 6th

Group at China 2024: Group D: Germany, Qatar, Uruguay, United States of America