09 Dec. 2023
Romania bounced back and stopped a two-game losing streak at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, with a convincing 32:28 win against Japan.
Romania vs Japan 32:28 (17:14)
Fresh from a huge win – maybe the most important in their history – Japan were hoping to ride the wave from their positive result against Denmark against another European opponent, their fourth at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, when they threw off the match against Romania.
On the other hand, Romania’s chances of progression were slim to none after their previous loss against Germany, 22:24, as only a far-fetched mathematical scenario would have seen them in contention to progress to the quarter-finals, after also conceding a loss against Denmark, earlier in the preliminary round.
Nevertheless, Romania started the game better, albeit with a few hiccups in attack, creating a 7:5 lead after only nine minutes, with their attack firing from all cylinders, after the European side scored only 45 goals in the previous two matches combined. This time, Romania were without star left back Cristina Neagu, who only played in the match against Germany, being left out of the roster, after not being at 100%.
Led once again by centre back Natsuki Aizawa, who had three goals and five assists and the end of the first half, Japan managed to stay close, but after facing Germany, Poland and Denmark earlier in the competition, their energy reserves were spent and their defence was not as aggressive as usual, leaking 17 goals in the first half.
On the back of an excellent match from Eliza Buceschi, Romania created a three-goal lead at the break, 17:14, which grew to a maximum of five goals early in the second half, 20:15, with Japan looking unable to react, even though goalkeeper Naho Saito had seven saves for a 38% saving efficiency by that time.
It was more about Japan’s plethora of turnovers – 12 until the 42nd minute – rather than Romania’s defence standing tall, but the Asian side were still eyeing a comeback, cutting the gap to two goals, 22:20, which prompted a team time-out from Florentin Pera, who attempted to wake up his players.
That proved to be the right move, as Romania looked better after that team time-out, with Buceschi, who was awarded the hummel Player of the Match title for the third time in five matches at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship fired from all cylinders, delivering 12 goals, to jump to the first place in the top goal scorer standings, with 36 goals.
Japan did try to mount another comeback, like against Germany and Poland, but this time they fell short, due to the plethora of turnovers and Romania doing the right things in crunch time, proving that they might have just learnt something after the loss against Germany, taking a 32:28 win. The European side also avenged the previous loss against the Asian side, 20:37, from four years ago, the second-largest in Romania’s history at the world handball flagship competition.
With this win, Romania are now on four points in the group, but only with virtual chances of progression, due to their loss against Denmark, 23:39, in the preliminary round, with their last match scheduled in Herning being the clash against Poland.
On the other hand, Japan are still only on two points and they are eliminated from contention for a quarter-finals berth, but will aim to deliver a win to send the competition on a high on Monday, against Serbia, their fifth match against an European side at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.
hummel Player of the Match: Eliza Buceschi (Romania)