09 Aug. 2019
Host nation North Macedonia got their second win of the 2019 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in Skopje with a 60-minute performance of sheer determination against a Bahrain side who pushed them all the way to the last few minutes.
Bahrain vs North Macedonia 25:27 (9:12)
Boris Trajkovski Arena, Skopje
By the end of a tense 60 minutes, Ali Ali had scored 11 times for Bahrain, but it would not be enough as just nine first-half goals from his whole team were part of the Asian youth champions undoing against host nation North Macedonia tonight in the Boris Trajkovski Arena in Skopje.
Martin Serafimov ended up scoring 10 goals for the home side in the game, but it was a key defensive and offensive performance from Darko Kondev in the final moments which ensured his team got a crucial second win in the group and can, maybe, start looking towards an eighth-finals place.
His role as, firstly, the outlying defender in the Macedonian 5-1 defence in the closing stages disrupted the Bahrain attack, and when his team got the ball out from their opponents forward play at 26:25 in the last minute it was Kondev who gleefully received the ball down court and struck home to make the difference two (27:25) and end with stats of one goal from one attempt - maybe not as impressive as 11/19 like Ali, but clearly more crucial in the end.
Danilo Brestovac’s side had got to that stage by taking a three-goal lead into the half-time break – which could have been four if the home side had taken a last-second chance – in a low-scoring first half and the constant feed of Serafimov’s goals in the second period (six in total), assisted by Nenad Kosteski (five in the second half).
The Macedonians will also be thankful for 12 saves in total from Marko Kizikj, particularly those in the first half which came at crucial times and included seven metre penalties.
This was another part of the underperformance from Bahrain – they could only convert five of their penalty shots given to them in the whole 60 minutes with coach Johan Halldor surely perplexed by the dismal success rate.
However his side did mount a comeback, drawing even in the 56th minute as the clearly nervous and tense home fans made their feelings known, but Martin Karapalevski and then Kosteski scored two for the hosts in a minute to settle nerves and eventually the game.
Best Player of the Match: Martin Serafimov (North Macedonia)
Photo: WCH 2019 / Filip Viranovski