19 Nov. 2022
The second day of the 2022 World & European Wheelchair Handball Championship offered some much-needed answers after the conclusion of the preliminary round, with four sides advancing to the semi-finals in Leiria, Portugal.
After 18 matches, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway and India are the four teams who still have a shot for the big trophy and to enshrine their name into the history of wheelchair handball.
Portugal were the first team to seal their tickets for the semi-finals, taking their third win in a row in Group B (18:13) against India. The European side took the initiative early and entered the break with an 11:4 lead, as coach Danilo Ferreira offered some well-deserved rest for some key players.
While India’s Javed Ramjan Choudhari scored nine of his team’s 13 goals, it was too little too late, as Portugal became the first qualified team to the penultimate act. They confirmed their status as one of the teams to beat in this competition they are hosting.
Norway delivered an instant classic of performance to seal the first place in the group, after the 12:10 win against Spain, with two recently-established teams going toe to toe until the final whistle, as the Scandinavian side relied heavily on Luis Gran, who scored four goals.
That meant that the second and third-placed sides from each group – Spain and Croatia from Group A and India and the Netherlands from Group B – faced off for a place in the semi-finals.
The game between Spain and the Netherlands became an instant classic, with the Netherlands mounting a massive comeback on Saturday after losing their first two matches in the competition the previous day.
After their win against Romania (14:10), the Netherlands sealed the third place in the group, which meant they faced Spain for a place in the semi-finals. Unfortunately for the latter side, Saturday was disappointing, with two losses sealing their fate in the competition.
The last one, in the cross matches, was painful, especially after they came back from a 2:7 hole only to take the lead and see themselves tie the game with only one minute and 13 seconds left in the game, 17:17.
The Netherlands, a more experienced side, took the win (20:18) in the shootout. Goalkeeper Joyce van Haaster worked wonders and conceded a single goal in what proved to be one of the most dramatic games of the competition, as Robertus Appelman was the Dutch top scorer, with nine goals.
The second semi-finalist was also decided after a crunch match between India and Croatia, with the Asian side eventually clinching their place in the top four of the championship after a nail-biting win in a hard-fought shootout.
Croatia started the game better in both halves, but India returned each time, with Ramesh Shanmugam and Javed Ramjan Choudhari combining for 11 of their team’s 13 goals.
After a hard-fought game, in which Croatia’s Ante Stimac scored all of his team’s 11 goals, the two sides finished in a deadlock, 10:10, with the game going to penalties.
Shanmugam and Choudhari converted their penalties, with Suresh Karki also delivering in crunch time. At the same time, Stimac was the only player to score for Croatia, with India progressing to the semi-finals with a 13:11 win.
Hungary and Romania finished on the fourth place in their groups and will meet in the Placement Match 7/8. Pakistan finished ninth, as they travelled to Portugal with only nine players (two women), although the competition rules stipulate that each team must field 12 players, including three women. Not meeting the requirement, the tournament management decided that Pakistan could participate in the championship but without any official ranking. All matches played by the national team of Pakistan will be verified with 0:10 goals and 0:2 points.
The two semi-finals will take place in the afternoon in Leiria, with Portugal facing India and Norway locking horns against the Netherlands. The two finalists will meet in the evening when the first title of the World & European Wheelchair Handball Championship will be awarded.
2022 World & European Wheelchair Handball Championship – Results Day 2
Norway vs Spain 12:10
Hungary vs Croatia 8:8
Pakistan vs Spain 0:10
Hungary vs Norway 2:7
Croatia vs Pakistan 10:0
Netherlands vs Romania 14:10
Portugal vs India 18:13
Spain vs Netherlands 18:20 after penalties (17:17)
India vs Croatia 13:11 after penalties (10:10)
Photo: Handall Federation Portugal