13 Oct. 2019
All eyes were on court three at the Al Gharafa Beach Handball Arena this morning as the last 12 of the 60 preliminary group stage matches of the men’s and women’s beach handball competition at the ANOC World Beach Games – Qatar 2019 took place on the third day of competition.
In the men’s competition, the United States of America and Australia did battle for the final quarter-final spot from group A, while Uruguay knew a win against Tunisia on the same court later would seal their last eight spot too – only if Hungary lost on the adjoining court two.
In the end, Australia squeezed past the USA via a shoot-out and Hungary wrapped up their needed win before Uruguay’s match had even finished.
Group A: Denmark perfection, Australian magic
The central court saw a Brazil side get back to winning ways after they lost their first match against Denmark yesterday afternoon, as two comfortable periods saw them defeat Sweden 2-0 to seal their second place in the group after Denmark, who, as expected, beat Oman to confirm first place.
However, it was not easy sailing for the European champions against the Asian runners-up as they found themselves 6:0 down at the start of the first period and 6:2 down at the beginning of the second. Eventually, they won both to end with a 100% record, with 10 points from five wins in five games, 10 periods won, and none conceded.
The hottest ticket in town, and that is saying something in the Doha heat, was the United States of America against Australia with both knowing it was a ‘win and in’, although Australia went into the game a player down after right wing Jonathan Morley was sidelined with a chest infection.
With 56 points scored in a first period won by Australia, it was by no means a game for fans of defence, but the United States started the second strongly and ended it with a comfortable eight-point win (28:16) to take the game to a shoot-out.
The heroics of Australian specialist/goalkeeper Lucas Turecek late yesterday were what put his Australian side in this position to qualify through to the quarter-finals today, and, again, he delivered. The warning signs were there when Charlie White squeezed his shot past the 1,98m Australian to make it 6:4 to America, and on their very next shot, the 2,03m Andrew Donlin saw his shot well-saved.
But it was not over yet as America fought until the very end but when Nicholas Gallaugher received the ball at 8:8 and the chance to win, he made no mistake to spark wild celebrations from the Oceania champions. America had come so close again but could not get it over the line, but in their moment of sadness they hugged each and every Australian player, wishing them luck in the quarter-finals and congratulating them for a job well done.
Group B: Hungary never in doubt as Tunisia make history and Qatar seal five wins in five
Qatar ensured they ended their preliminary campaign with five wins from five, beating Spain 2-0 to confirm top spot, with their opponents ending the group in fourth.
That fourth spot could well have been Uruguay at the beginning of the day as a victory against the, so far, winless Tunisians, combined with a Croatia victory over Hungary, would have seen the South and Central American runners-up qualify through to the last eight.
And as they lined up on adjoining the nervousness from Hungary and their supporters – including their women’s team – was apparent. However, they never needed to worry in the end as a 2-0 win over Croatia, thanks, in part, to a poor shooting performance from the Croatians, ensured that by the time the Hungarians had finished, Uruguay, mid-way through their second period were aware they were out.
Whether that affected their performance from then on after a 16:12 first period victory is unsure, but Tunisia bounced back to win 14:12 in the second, despite having Omar Saied red-carded for a foul on an attacking player.
The game went to a shoot-out and the North African side were also cheered on by their women’s team, like Denmark. That support and their strong mentality seemed to make them find something extra in the shoot-out to win 7:6.
The win was surprising as Uruguay were initially 4:0 ahead but a disastrous run then saw them miss three in a row and Tunisia come back, firstly with Aimen Touzi ensuring the victory was within touching distance (6:4) before Uruguay equalised, but then Mohamed Maaouia grabbed the solitary point for the historic first victory on a global level for the Tunisian men’s beach handball team.
The results meant that Hungary finished second in the group ahead of Croatia and Spain, with Tunisia leapfrogging over Uruguay into fifth place.
Men’s Competition: Sunday 13 October 2019
Group A: Brazil (BRA), Sweden (SWE), Denmark (DEN), Oman (OMA), United States of America (USA), Australia (AUS)
Group B: Croatia (CRO), Hungary (HUN), Spain (ESP), Qatar (QAT), Uruguay (URU), Tunisia (TUN)
BRA vs SWE 2-0 (26:20, 16:12)
DEN vs OMA 2-0 (16:14, 17:16)
USA vs AUS 1-2 (26:30, 28:16, SO 8:9)
ESP vs QAT 0-2 (16:17, 10:20)
CRO vs HUN 0-2 (18:21, 22:28)
URU vs TUN 1-2 (16:12, 12:14, SO 6:7)6.3.1