25 Jul. 2013
In one of their most difficult moments at the World Championship in Bosnia-Herzegovina the Brazilian juniors experiences special honour and assistance: right after their highly unlucky 21:23 quarter-final defeat against Croatia, IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa entered the court to hold a short speech to the players and coaches. “You did a really good job, you are a very good team with a very good coach. You are on the best way to close the gap to the European teams and you are really on the best way to Rio 2016”, said Moustafa - and received splendid applause by the players.
Brazil was highly close to become the only non-European semi-finallist in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but in the last two minutes they failed against the Croats. “Our problem is the level of competition in Brazil compared to Europe. If we had more experience in close matches, we would be in the semi-final now,” said coach Jordi Ribera.
It is his job to prepare the Brazilian men’s team for the 2016 Olympic Games on home ground in Rio. Therefore he was also appointed to coach the junior team to make a close junction between men and youngsters. “It makes sense as we still have three years time. And definitely we have some juniors in our squad, who will be part of our Olympic team for 2016,” Spanish born Ribera said after missing the semi-finals. Now his team plays for the positions 5-8, first against Switzerland. “If we beat the Swiss team, we will already have reached the best ever position of Brazilian juniors at a World Championship, which would mean a huge success”, Ribera hopes.
He had already led the Brazilian men’s team to the eighth-finals of the 2013 World Championship in Spain – and unluckily was defeated by the Russian. “We had been praised for our performances in Spain, now again the experts stated a clear improvement also for our juniors. This is a big motivation to continue on our way,” said Ribera.
His team had caused one of the major surprises in the eighth-finals in Bosnia-Herzegovina by beating the clearly favoured team from Slovenia. “Again we had the chance to defeat a main contender for gold against Croatia, but when we were away by one goal in the final stages, we missed a crucial chance – in case of a two goals backlog Croatia might have become nervous, but finally they beat us thanks to their greater experience”, Ribera analyzed the quarter-final defeat.
In general, Ribera was highly satisfied with his team: “Our main goal was to reach the knock-out stage, now we are among the best eight teams of the world, brilliant!”, he said: “This result and the men’s result in Spain boost us on our way to Rio 2016. We will continue step by step.” But Ribera also sees the problems of the development: “Our league is too weak compared to Europe, we need more competitions for our young players. They can only learn in matches on highest level. What we can do is to give them the physical conditions they need, but only top matches bring them further ahead.”