Perfect Hungary seal first place in the Olympic Qualification Tournament #1 with win over Japan

14 Apr. 2024

Perfect Hungary seal first place in the Olympic Qualification Tournament #1 with win over Japan

Hungary joined Germany and the Netherlands as one of the three Olympic Qualification Tournaments winners, after securing their third win in a row in Debrecen, 37:28, against Japan, sealing the first place with six points.

Olympic Qualification Tournament #1
Hungary vs Japan 37:28 (18:11)

The maths were simple, after one Paris 2024 Olympic Games ticket was already delivered after Sweden’s 52:8 win against Great Britain. Hungary had several options in their last match in Debrecen, which also included a loss by four goals or less against Japan, making them big favourites to qualify for Paris 2024.

Yet in front of over 5.000 Hungarian fans, Vladimir Golovin’s side was not going to crumble or give their fans any issues, riding a superb start and exploiting all of Japan’s issues, to create a healthy seven-goal lead at the break, 18:11, which proved to be unassailable in the end.

It took Hungary 10 minutes to finally settle into the match, but from that moment on, right back Katrin Klujber and right wing Viktória Győri-Lukács started firing from all cylinders, combining for 10 goals throughout the first half, with a stunning display of consistency.

Japan tried to weather the storm by using an aggressive seven-on-six attacking display, replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player, but that went from bad to worse, as Hungary constantly forced turnovers – 12 of them in fact, in the first half – as the gap soared to seven goals at the break.

It went from bad to worse for Japan, which saw main defender Mika Nagata concede a red card only 90 seconds into the second half, with Klujber unstoppable from all parts of the court, as the right back reached the nine-goal mark and became the seventh player to score at least 20 goals in the three Olympic Qualification Tournaments.

Already under the cover of their big lead from the first half, Hungary played without pressure and delivered some excellent moments for their fans, including some outstanding goals, as Japan crumbled under their mistakes, especially in attack, where they continued to play the seven-on-six tactic.

Led by Klujber, who finished the match with 11 goals, improving her overall tally at the Olympic Qualification Tournaments to 23 goals, one goal less than the top goal scorer, Czechia’s Marketa Jerabkova, Hungary extended their lead to 12 goals, 29:17, with 10 minutes to go, as the players had already started their celebrations.

As Golovin rotated his squad and players which did not feature as prominently entered the court, Japan managed to cut the gap in the last 10 minutes, but it was too little, too late, with Hungary celebrating their third win in a row, 37:28, and punching the last available ticket for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Hungary qualified for the eighth time at the Olympic Games and for the second time in a row, after they finished on the seventh place at Tokyo 2020, with a dominating display, controlling all matches and never falling behind in the 180 minutes they played in Debrecen.

On the other hand, Japan will be disappointed with a single win in this Olympic Qualification Tournament, having two big losses against Sweden and Hungary and failing to progress to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after they were the hosts at Tokyo 2020 and finished on the 12th place.

hummel Player of the Match: Katrin Klujber (Hungary)