Slovenia keep focus on final eight with defeat of Korea

06 Dec. 2023

Slovenia keep focus on final eight with defeat of Korea

The 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship arrived in Trondheim, Norway with an exciting clash between Slovenia and Republic of Korea, which saw the European side ease to a four-goal victory in a game they had led by 10.

Main Round, Group II
Republic of Korea vs Slovenia 27:31 (14:20)

With two points to their name, compared to group rivals Norway and France (on four each), Slovenia knew they had to do everything they could to win and keep their chances of being one of the two teams from Main Round, Group II to qualify through to the quarter-finals.

That scenario may seem unlikely, considering they are the European and Olympic champions respectively, so therefore Slovenia’s – perhaps – more realistic goal is to ensure they at least finish third in the group to ensure a shot at a place in the Olympic Qualification Tournaments next year.

While the maths for that are for another day, on Wednesday at the DNB Arena they went all out for the win, starting with influential captain Ana Gros, who had returned from a hamstring injury and who had only played her first game in this championship when she was used against France sparingly, last time out.

Just after the 10th minute, Slovenia were ahead by four (8:4) as Korea’s defence and goalkeepers could not find a way to stop the attacking threat, led by the superb Tjasa Stanko and finished off by Tamara Mavsar, who ended with nine goals from her 11 attempts with scoring duties shared by the best player of the match, Alja Varagic (7/8).

However, even with a double-digit lead (25:15) shortly into the second half (35th minute), Slovenia were not safe and when you have a player like Ryu Eun Hee in your side anything is possible.

Her 12 goals in the match – half of which were from 9m – ensured a fair battle and in an impressive 9:3 scoring run, including a trio of strikes from Ryu, her side came within four (24:28, 55th minute) as they clawed their way back into contention.

But with just five saves in the match, the damage was done down the other end and Korea’s championship progression has been stunted.

hummel Player of the Match: Alja Varagic (Slovenia)