01 Dec. 2023
After scoring 43 goals in their opening win (43:11) against Greenland, Norway surpassed that in a high-scoring victory over European wildcard entry Austria, winning 45:28 in front of 5,000 spectators at the DNB Arena in Stavanger to confirm their passage through to the main round.
Austria vs Norway 28:45 (12:21)
There are many signs evident as to just how good Norway are in the world of handball.
First, you have multiple, medal and award-laden players throughout the court – some who have even won gold medals in multiple handball disciplines (Maren Aardahl won European Championship beach handball gold in 2017 to go with her indoor handball golds in the 2021 IHF Women’s World Championship and 2022 European Championship).
Then you have their coach on the sidelines, Thorir Hergeirsson – winner of multiple medals himself across three decades.
Throughout the entire squad and support staff there are winners.
Hergeirsson even had the luxury of bringing back Nora Mork after the right back was rested for their opener on Wednesday, but elected not to play her.
And on court on Friday night against Austria, you could see the difference clearly.
Norway started like a spring that had sprung – attacks were taking six seconds on average.
At 3:0 ahead after 2:05 on the clock, Austria coach Herbert Müller took a time out as the cacophony of noise and relentlessness of attacks threatened to destroy his time.
A pause was needed. Could that have been one of the earliest-ever team time outs in world championship history?
Well, whatever the record is – or was – Austria kept in touch until the 11th minute (7:8) and then the Norwegian decided they had had enough and in the next six minutes it was game over after a 6:0 scoring run (14:7).
At half-time, nine goals up, Thorir even delayed going to the dressing room to discuss some tactical detail of the game with Stine Oftedal, such is the forensic nature of their winning culture.
The second half was even more impressive, a bigger difference, ‘won’ by Norway 24:16.
Henny Reistad with 10 strikes from 11 attempts led the way, part of an overall 80% strike rate for the team with an average lasting 22 seconds.
The only downside to the evening was a potential injury scare to Oftedal at the buzzer after she appeared to land awkwardly on her arm – the fall coming as she powered into an Austrian defensive gap with just seconds remaining, such is the motivation and focus of her and her team.
Norway have now scored 88 goals in two matches and are in the main round. Austria still are not yet securely there, but with their final group match against Greenland on Sunday and with a group win in the bag already, they are likely to join the co-hosts in Trondheim next week.
hummel Player of the Match: Henny Reistad (Norway)