Senegal deliver biggest shock so far at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023
01 Dec. 2023
The opening match of Group A proved to be low-scoring, but very entertaining one, with Senegal keeping Croatia in check, as the two teams shared the spoils, 22:22, after a late surge from the European side, which avoided a loss in Ivica Obrvan's maiden official match, after replacing Nenad Sostaric.
Croatia vs Senegal 22:22 (9:11)
Senegal, which are playing for only the second time at the IHF Women's World Championship, were seen as underdogs, but they had no fear for their more experienced European rivals – a feature which they displayed from the opening minute of the match.
Propelled by right back Doungou Camara, who impressed by scoring six goals from just as many attempts in the first half, the Africans opened a 5:2 lead 10 minutes into the match. Although right back Fanta Keita got a red card midway through the first half, her teammates did not slow down, as Croatia were unable to draw level even once before the break, which saw Senegal take a surprising 11:9 lead.
While Camara led the way in attack, Senegal also did a good job in defence, with goalkeeper Justicia Toubissa Elbeco boasting a 40% save rate in the first 30 minutes and restricting the Europeans to a below-par 43% shot efficiency. In contrast, Croatian goalkeepers were underperforming, as Tea Pijevic and Lucija Besen combined for only two saves before half-time.
After the break, nothing seemed to change, as Senegal continued to lead the match. Full of energy and enthusiasm, the Africans held their rivals back with a 5-1 defence and continued to push forward. Camara, who became the top scorer of the match with 10 goals, now enjoyed an excellent support from fellow back court player Soukeina Sagna, as the pair the Croatian defence apart.
Senegal's lead reached four goals a few times, and even seven minutes from full-time, the Africans boasted three goals in front, 21:18. However, the Balkan side showed character and determination. Led by Tina Barisic, who became their best scorer with eight goals, the Europeans had a 3:0 to draw level.
In the last few minutes, the opponents exchanged goals, and while Senegal had the last attack in this match, Camara failed to score this time, with the two teams sharing the spoils, a surprising outcome, taking into account that Croatia never led the match for a second.
hummel Player of the Match: Doungou Camara (Senegal)