Host Brazil secures the gold medal
02 May. 2023
The host nation men of Brazil have won Stage 1 of the 2023 IHF Men's Beach Handball Global Tour in the Rio de Janeiro state city of Maricá.
They dispatched neighbours Argentina in the final on Sunday (30 April) as the opening 2023 stage concluded after getting underway on Wednesday (26 April).
Brazil started off with a perfect record after four 2-0 wins out of four at the halfway point.
After a rest day on Friday (28 April), six games were played on Saturday and the two medal matches on Sunday. The first three games concluded the preliminary group stage in the early session on Saturday, with the USA defeating Chile via a 13:12 shoot-out win, Argentina seeing off Uruguay 2-0 and Brazil beating the European side Portugal by the same score.
With five 2-0 wins from their five games, Brazil were the clear table-toppers as the preliminary group ended. They also had the best offence and defence, scoring 216 points and conceding just 153 (+63 goal difference). And in a sign of how tight the competition was behind them, Argentina, Uruguay and Portugal all ended on six points each, with the teams finishing in that order after the equal head-to-head record in the mini-league and points difference were taken into account.
The USA finished fifth (2) in the group thanks to a sole win over Chile, who finished sixth. Their positions meant they would fight again for 5/6 place in the later session on Saturday – in fact, all three games in the later session on Saturday were a repeat of the earlier games.
And the 5/6 placement match was a cracker, with the teams going to a shoot-out again. With Chile 22:20 up in the first period, the USA took a time-out with 10 seconds remaining, but mishandled the ball in attack and failed to score. The USA bounced back in the second period, just. Taking a 24:21 lead into the last 30 seconds, Chile came back with one point with 11 seconds left, but the US just kept possession and took it to shots.
That shoot-out saw Chile only able to score their first shot and this, combined with the USA scoring four in a row and Ebiye Udo-Udoma making two saves, ensured another victory for the Americans.
Argentina got the better of Uruguay in their semi-final 2-0 (20:16, 22:14), but the host nation finally lost a set, as they were taken to a semi-final shoot-out by Portugal in a tight match.
It was 20:20 going into the last minute of the first set and with Brazil in attack, Matheus Victor Medeiros made it 22:20 with 40 seconds remaining, allowing Portugal one last attack to even it up. But Pedro Luiz Wirtzbiki in the Brazilian goal denied Portugal's Joao Pinhal.
The second set was even more tense. With the scores again locked at 20:20, just 10 seconds remained as possession switched to Portugal, who took a time-out. After a patient build-up, Portugal's Jose Nuno Silva sunk home a deflected shot. (21:20). Brazil then squeezed in their own time out but with just two seconds left they could not get the ball up the court quick enough.
So it went to shots and Pinhal saw his opening shot saved by Marcelo Tuller Moreira Machado in the Brazil goal. Hugo Fernandes da Silva then rounded off the game for the home side as he smothered the air-bound Diogo Ferreira to confirm an 8:4 victory.
The final two games on Sunday saw one shoot-out, with Portugal taking bronze thanks to a 9:6 defeat of Uruguay. Portugal had powered back to take the second set (26:24) after losing the first (14:20). And the hero of the shoot-out was Ricardo Castro, who started it with a save from Joaquin Urbina Falero but then sunk home the single-pointer later on after there had been no further misses.
The final saw Brazil never in trouble against Argentina as they won 2-0 (18:10, 24:14), with Renan Pinheiro Carvalho top-scoring on 20 points to ensure gold.
Brazil's legendary specialist Bruno Carlos de Oliveira took time out after winning gold to reflect on the event and the double success for the home nation.
"It started back in 2019, here in Maricá, when we played in the SCAHC championship," he said to local media.
"That was a beautiful spectacle and now the international capital of beach handball. I just have the feeling that a job well done is rewarded and today we had that crowned with gold in both the men's and women's competition."
Argentina's right back Santino Sposito topped the goalscoring rankings, registering 85 points in his seven games. The points total included 44 goals from 76 attempts. In second place was Brazil's left back Renan Pinheiro Carvalho with 83 points from his seven games (42/54).
Unsurprisingly, Brazil's de Oliveira took the overall MVP statistical title, a ranking system developed by live score provider Toma-soft, with 159.32 points, followed by Carvalho with 149.59.
All games were streamed live on the IHF Competitions YouTube channel and can be watched again on demand.
For match schedules, live scores, statistics and much more, visit the IHF.info mini-site here.
4. Uruguay, 5. United States of America, 6. Chile
Photo: Santi Russo / @Play_handball