Junior (U21) Competition: Thursday 11 April
Australia were fighting for their semi-final lives as they opened the second day of the 2018/19 IHF Men’s Trophy Intercontinental Phase U21 competition against Paraguay but after a competitive opening 10 minutes they fell away, losing by 13 goals.
The South Americans’ win meant that, along with the USA, they qualify through to the semi-finals from group B already.
In group A Nigeria gave up a two-goal half-time lead, losing to Chinese Taipei. Both sides still have a chance of qualifying tomorrow when Nigeria take on Kosovo in the final game of the preliminary group stage.
Group B: Australia vs Paraguay 19:32 (7:15)
The 2018/19 IHF Men’s Trophy Intercontinental Phase represents the first time that a Paraguay men’s team have stepped on a European court to play competitively and today they got their first win as their U21 side defeated Australia with ease.
Yesterday, their U19 men had lost to Taipei, and for just over the first 10 minutes today the South Americans looked unlikely to get much from the game having been behind from the opening whistle.
In a disorganised opening, Paraguay even scored for their opponents, after goalkeeper Marco Antonio Saucedo Galeano had made one of his – in total – 16 match saves On this occasion he made an excellent block from Jake Ljungberg to set-up a fast-break, going out of his area to celebrate at the bench.
While taking the applause of his team, Australia regrouped in defence, causing the Paraguay attack to slow down in their opponents’ half. Enrique Daniel Alfonzo then passed behind himself to set up a slower attack, but the right wing overthrew his pass and it trickled into the South American goal to make it 3:2 to the Australians.
This appeared to paralyse Victor Ismael Figueredo Trigo’s side as the Australians kept in front until the 10th minute (4:4), but by the 20th minute his team were four up (9:5) as they relaxed into their game and took control despite two time-outs from Australian coach Ricki Lyngsoe.
By half-time the lead was eight goals (15:7) and double figures came soon after the break at 20:10 (37th minute) as Paraguay showed their class and cruised to victory.
“It is always good to start with a win,” said coach Trigo after the game to IHF.info. “I am especially satisfied with how we played in defence, we played very solidly. It’s a good first step this start and encourages us for the upcoming games.
“In the first 15 minutes we didn’t know what to expect, what kind of handball they would play but when we realised we were able to make a little adaptation, primarily in defence, and then, of course, turned the scoreboard in our favour.”
Lyngberg ended up as top-scorer for Australia with five goals while Jose Luis Fiore Canata Morinigo grabbed eight for Paraguay.
View photos from the match HERE.
Group A: Chinese Taipei vs Nigeria 30:29 (16:14)
It was the game which nearly had everything – and even provided more after the final buzzer as both teams can still qualify through to the semi-finals.
Nigeria, with two teams in Kosovo, having won the African continental competition, saw their U21 team step onto court first and by the 10th minute they had already forced Chinese Taipei into a time-out following a 7:3 early lead, later extended to 10:3 after the first quarter
But the Asian side came back just before the break to go in 16:14 up thanks to an aggressive 3-3 defensive press, which, at times saw all six players defending outside of the nine-metre line. This led to an amazing 10:2 scoring in the last 10 minutes of the first half for Taipei in which the Nigerians had no answer.
However, Taipei’s Chen Shin-Hung’s red card after his third two-minute suspension in the 42nd minute stopped their flow somewhat and Nigeria did take the lead again, but it was not until eight minutes from time when Gbenga Tobi Cole made it 27:26, the end of a 3:0 run which Taipei had try to halt with a time-out.
Nigeria kept their two-goal lead until the 54th minute (29:27), even with two players missing due to suspension and goalkeeper Michael Agbaji Solomon making another save – from the seven-metre line this time. He ended with 21 saves in the match, but it was one too short as, with the score back all-even (29:29), Wu Peng-Wei squeezed through to his own seven-metre to make it 30:29 with just under 90 seconds.
A grandstand finish followed though as Nigeria had a chance to grab a draw, but Abdullahi Ataboh missed his seven-metre shot and when possession changed, Taipei took a time-out with 39 seconds left. Hsieh Chi-Hsuan then had a chance to confirm the victory with 20 seconds left but Solomon again saved from the seven-metre line and in one last attack, a free-throw was given just before the buzzer sounded, but left-hander Cole could not squeeze the ball in, hitting the crossbar.
“I’m very, very happy with the game because it’s a very good result,” said Peng-Wei to IHF.info after the match. “We could not score in the beginning and found it hard with Nigeria’s attack and defence but with good teamwork we finally got there in the end and won.
“They have very good speed and fitness and was hard to follow them. We will ensure we are well-prepared to reach the semi-finals and we hope we can keep our feelings from this game into the next one.”