Olympic champions ease to victory as Martin era begins

30 Nov. 2019

Olympic champions ease to victory as Martin era begins

Legendary Russia coach Evgeny Trefilov was at the Park Dome Kumamoto with Russia this evening, but instead of joining the players on court, he went up to the spectator seats.

While the seats were unfamiliar territory perhaps for one of the big personalities in world handball, on court, the Ambros Martin-era Russia were familiar – easing past neighbours People’s Republic of China by 15 goals (26:11), with the European side restricting the Asian team to just six first half goals and even less in the second period, with five.

Russia vs People's Republic of China 26:11 (13:6)

Two new coaches tasted their first world championship with their new teams today, and despite a one-sided game, both were satisfied with their starts, but both have very different aims and pressures.

For new Russia coach Ambros Martin, who replaced Evgeny Trefilov after the Olympic gold medal-winning coach moved ‘upstairs’ at the Handball Federation of Russia following health issues, nothing less than a podium place is expected at Japan 2019, while for Danish coach Heine Jensen, in his first game with China, development and knowledge is key as the populous nation seek to return to former success.

In their opening Group D game it took China until the seventh minute to score and then a further 10 minutes to get their second, but by that time it was 8:2 to Russia, who ended the first half with eight different scorers, compared to three from their opponents.

A double-digit Russian lead was reached with just over a quarter left when Anna Sen scored on the fast break with a 79km shot (19:9), but by then the game was already over as contest.

“From the very first moment we wanted to do a good job,” said Martin. “Even during the preparation the full team was totally motivated to start this competition at a high level – the maximum level we can and today was the real proof of this; it doesn’t matter who was playing it doesn’t matter what minute it was, all the players were fighting, full of concentration and focussed.

“Now we need to rest and prepare for the second step.”

For Jensen, he was happy despite the large defeat, and is looking for his team to use the game as a learning experience and progress through the championship.

“For us, it was also a good start to the tournament, but it was a well-deserved victory for Russia and today we saw two teams on different levels,” he said. “I am very satisfied with my team; they fought all the way and tried their best to do a good job I hope we can continue to develop and maybe play a little bit better in the next game.”

hummel Player of the Match: Iuliia Managarova, Russia

Photo: Yukihito Taguchi/Japan 2019