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News Details

Date: 4/8/2016

Four months after Jyske Bank BOXEN in Herning hosted the deciding matches of the 2015 IHF Women’s World Championship, the international handball atmosphere returns to the central part of Jutland this weekend.

Hosts Denmark, Croatia, Norway and Bahrain are all set to battle for two tickets to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August, with the matches starting on Friday evening and the teams to travel to Rio de Janeiro to be determined by Sunday night. 

Friday April 8 in Jyske Bank BOXEN, Herning
Norway vs Bahrain 18.00 local time

Norway raised more than a few eyebrows around the handball world when they reached the semi-finals of the European Championship in Poland in January this year. The Scandinavians, who did not qualify for the 2015 IHF Men’s World Championship in Qatar, made a considerable leap forward with the result and now take on Bahrain in the first match in their attempt to make it all the way to Rio.

Bahrain qualified for the Olympic Qualification Tournament through their third-place finish at the 2015 Asian Qualification Tournament. They also finished second behind Qatar at the Asian Men’s Handball Championship in January this year – an achievement that secured them a place at the 2017 Men’s World Championship in France.

Even though many people may consider Norway the favourites in this meeting, 21-year-old playmaker Sander Sagosen is still a bit overwhelmed having made it this far.

“Things have gone a bit fast lately, but now we are here, we will obviously try to go all the way,” Sagosen said.

Norway will be missing right back Kent Robin Tønnesen due to a calf injury, which means extra work for national coach Christian Berge’s other right back option, Harald Reinkind. Though Reinkind is also nursing an injury – in his right hand – the left-handed back expects to be fit to play. 

Denmark vs Croatia 20.30 local time

Croatia have not been able to defeat Denmark since the 2012 London Olympics. In the group phase of that tournament, the Croatians won as clearly as 32:21, but the four meetings between the two countries since then have all ended with Danish wins.

The latest international between Denmark and Croatia was the match for fifth place at Qatar 2015, which Denmark won 28:24. Furthermore, the Croatians do not have particularly happy memories of Jyske Bank BOXEN, as it was the host venue for the European championship semi-final in 2014 where they were defeated by Denmark 27:29. 

However, Croatia arrive in Denmark with confidence behind them as the bronze medalists at the 2016 European championship in Poland in January, and they have the advantage that the hosts are missing one of their key players – line player René Toft Hansen. Toft Hansen suffers a long-term injury and is missed in the Danish defence in particular. 

Still, Denmark’s Icelandic coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson has been facing positive problems in that he had a hard decision axing two players ahead of the squad nominations for Friday’s match: “I have many good players at my disposal, and it has not been easy to leave two players out.”

Photos: Stephane Pillaud