Group C: Denmark collect gritty win versus Saudi Arabia

14 Jan. 2019

Group C: Denmark collect gritty win versus Saudi Arabia

Denmark extended their winning run at their home World Championship to three with a clear victory over Saudi Arabia to end round three for Group C in Herning on Monday night. The final score line was decisive, but the reigning Olympic champions struggled to find the determination shown in their earlier matches at GER/DEN 2019.

Denmark vs Saudi Arabia 34:22 (17:11)

Denmark coach Nikolaj Jacobsen clearly expected his side to collect the two points as he started with a different line-up from the usual stars. It was an opportunity for those players who have not had as much time on court to perform, with the likes of Mikkel Hansen and Rasmus Lauge largely on the bench. Captain Niklas Landin started off and did not take his first steps on the field until the second half, when Denmark’s energy appeared to be waning.

Saudi Arabia did well to keep pace through the opening minutes, though they had to work hard against Denmark’s strong defence. The Asian side preferred to look for options on breakthroughs, and against solid 6-0 defence such as that of the Scandinavian side, creating gaps was not easy. Still, after 10 minutes, the score was a respectable 5:4 – but the close difference did not last for long.

With a 3:1 run through the next two minutes, Denmark opened the first clear lead, 8:5, and from there the score line only grew. For both teams, the goals came in from all positions. At 9:5 in the 14th minute, six Danish players and five Saudis had earned their place on the score board.

Saudi Arabia keeper Mohamed Alsalem had an excellent game in goal, making many spectacular and difficult saves that kept Denmark’s attacking efficiency surprisingly low – but his efforts could not contain them completely. At half-time, the hosts held a six-goal advantage and by the final whistle, the difference stood at 12 goals.

Saudi Arabia did mount a short-lived comeback, closing the gap to 15:18 and prompting Denmark coach Jacobsen to call a time-out in the 35th minute. After that the co-hosts switched to 5-1 defence with the hummel player of the match, Magnus Landin (seven goals), pushing forward. As the last 10 minutes began, Denmark had opened a 10-goal distance and the two points were clearly decided.

With the result, Denmark joined Norway on six points.

Statements after the match:
Nikolaj Jacobsen, coach Denmark: I’m happy for the two points for my team, with a safe victory. We had some problems today and didn’t play like I had hoped. It was difficult to get tempo up for us. After playing 5-1 defence we did manage to succeed with this though.

Boris Denic, coach Saudi Arabia:
Today was the first time we played without having anything to lose. We played a tactically good match, but couldn’t play on the same level as the Danish team. Sometimes though, we got the goals we wanted, and I thank my team for the game today.

Jannick Green, player Denmark:
It wasn’t an easy game the whole way through, but in the end we can be satisfied with the match. It’s not easy to play against a non-European team; we are not used to it. But we made it in the end after all.

Hassan Alijanabi, player Saudi Arabia:
We know Denmark are one of the best teams in the world. We played today’s match differently, trying to show that we love the game. We like the Danish team and are happy about our effort today. We wish the Danes the best of luck moving forward.