History written as Japan celebrate main round berth

19 Jan. 2021

History written as Japan celebrate main round berth

In a thrilling final group match for Japan and Angola, both teams had the chance to grab a spot for the main round. After two close and hard-fought halves, it was Japan who came away with a 30:29 victory, their first win in this World Championship. They now progress to the main round for the first time.

Angola will move to the President’s Cup, still looking for their first win at Egypt 2021. 

Japan vs Angola 30:29 (16:12)

The African-Asian clash saw a blistering start, when Angola right back Elias Antonio opened the match with a side shot into the center of the goal after his team had been called for passive play. The sides traded the lead four times in the first 20 minuets of the match until the Asian Championship bronze-medalists Japan shut down the Angolan attack. 

In the absence of Angola’s most effective attacking player Adelino Pestana, who has tallied eight goals and four assists so far in the competition, none of the players could find their way through the Japanese defensive line as they were held scoreless after the 20th minute when Edvaldo Ferreira scored his fourth goal.

While Yuto Agarie scored two penalty shots in a row, Ferreira did not get the ball past goalkeeper Takumi Nakaruma from the seven-metre line.

The Asian side extended their lead up to four goals as the match progressed. Custodia Gouveia between the posts prevented a five-goal deficit, as he stopped a fast break shortly before the break. 

Not having played in the first half, Angola got a tremendous game from second left back Mario Tati, who scored the first four goals for his side within only eight minutes. Still, Japan were leading by five goals at 25:20 with 15 minutes left. However, Angola mounted a strong comeback and after levelling at 27:27 in the 52th minute, they even took a 28:27 lead, their first one in 40 minutes.  

“I think that we tried a little bit too much to protect our lead and we should have tried to be a bit more aggressive in attack,” said Japan coach Dagur Sigurdsson.

His team fought back and a crucial save from Yuta Iwashita followed by an excellent spin shot from Agarie eventually sealed the win for the Japanese team, who for the first time at Egypt 2021, left the court victorious. 

“It was an unbelievable match for us today and I want to thank Angola for a good game. Every game for us has been so difficult and challenging. We were leading with five goals and when Angola came back, we were under pressure. In the end, we knew we only needed a draw but I think that we deserved the win today,” concluded Sigurdsson.

Japan will now move on to the main round with one point.

hummel Player of the Match: Jin Watanabe, Japan