Tournament 1: Spain eye third Olympic berth in a row against Argentina
21 Mar. 2021
Argentina have never won against a European team, but must start on Sunday, when they face Spain in a game that will decide the second ticket to Tokyo 2020.
After drawing against Spain in the first game, 28:28, Sweden routed Argentina, 34:21, securing the first berth to the Olympic Games from the tournament hosted in Lliria, Spain.
Argentina vs Spain 19:30 CET
The learning curve for Argentina is still steep, despite clear progress made in the past few years. It was clear from the throw off against Sweden, in a game that the South American side had no chance, conceding a 21:34 loss.
Yet their chances for a Tokyo 2020 berth are still open, in spite of the gargantuan task they will face when taking the court against Spain, the silver medallists of the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship.
“Las Guerreras” did a part of their job on Friday, when they mounted a superb comeback against Sweden to snatch a point, after a hard-fought draw, 28:28, and only need a point against Argentina.
But they are still overwhelming favourites, having won the previous three competitive clashes by at least six goals each, including a comprehensive 31:15 win nine years ago in the London Handball Qualification 2012.
Provided they do not lose against Argentina, Spain will make their third appearance in a row at the Olympic Games, where they won the bronze medal at London 2012.
However, caution is still preached by Spain’s coach, Carlos Viver, whose experience in handball means he saw everything there is to be seen on the court.
“We have not achieved a thing yet, the game against Argentina will be key, therefore we still have to play at our best to proceed to the Olympic Games,” said Viver.
Argentina have never won against a European side in competitive games, while losing all their six games played against Spain, three of them friendlies, by an average of 13,8 goals per game.
Yet the Argentinian side is undeterred, despite failing to meet more than once in the past year, due to the restrictions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will keep on fighting, because the fate is still in our hands. Each of us needs to chime in more and we need to take care of the ball in our attack and it could be better,” said Argentina’s Manuela Pizzo, the team’s top scorer against Sweden, with five goals.
Five of Eduardo Gallardo’s players are playing in Spain and know Spanish handball better than anyone, with few other players, like left back Elke Karsten having played in the Spanish league in the past years.
“We must find our rhythm and identity to clinch a result against Spain that will bring us to the Olympic Games,” said Gallardo, prior to the must-win game against “Las Guerreras”.
Photo: RFEBM / J. L. Recio