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News Details

Date: 3/17/2016

The opening day of the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament II in Aarhus sees a Romania-Denmark re-match and Uruguay taking on mighty Montenegro as the final step on the road to the 2016 Olympic Games begins. 

When the final whistle blows after six matches in CERES Arena on Sunday night, two of the four teams will have secured their place at Rio 2016, and two will leave with the disappointment of having to wait another four years for their Olympic dream. 

Friday March 18 in CERES Arena, Aarhus
Uruguay vs Montenegro 16:45 local time

Uruguay will face a big challenge when they step on the court to face the 2012 Olympic silver medallists on Friday. 

Montenegro confirmed themselves as one of the top women’s teams in the world when they took home the Olympic medal followed by the EHF EURO 2012 trophy less than six months later, and that name has followed them since. Despite the fact that they have not managed to repeat the success of 2012 yet, Montenegro are a threat every time they step on the court and are usually considered a medal contender at any major tournament for good reason.

With a roster including four-time EHF Champions League winner Katarina Bulatovic, the expert wing pairing of Jovanka Radicevic and Majda Mehmedovic, and creative centre back Milena Raicevic, Montenegro should have little trouble securing a victory against the less experienced Pan-American team on Friday. 

For Uruguay the matches against group opponents Montenegro, Romania and Denmark will be a big test. The team finished fourth at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games to qualify for their first Olympic Qualification Tournament, and so their key focus will be on the learning experience and continued development. 

Romania vs Denmark 19:00 local time

Three short months ago it was Romania who knocked out the hosts of the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship, defeating the Scandinavian team 31:30 in the quarter-final stage. 

Romania went on to win the bronze medal, but it was not only their third-place finish that caught attention. Their quarter-final win against Denmark was decided in a thrilling extra-time match in front of 15,000 spectators in Jyske Bank BOXEN, before they pushed Norway to an equally exciting 70-minute game in the semi-final. 

In early March Romania and Norway met again, this time in the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Phase for a double header than saw one win for each side. Romania’s home victory represented the first time they have beat Norway in 15 years, with the 10 goals from Denmark 2015 Most Valuable Player Cristina Neagu confirming that coach Tomas Ryde is bringing out the full potential of the team and its star player. 

“After winning at home against Norway we have a great idea of the level we have when we are at our best, and it also gives us the conditions to focus for the Olympic Qualification weekend. In this moment, Cris [Neagu], Alice [Ardean-Elisei] and Eliza [Buceschi] were very tired because they always play a lot,” says Ryde, who used the second match against the world champions to rest these key players and gain experience in taking responsibility throughout the full 60 minutes for others. 

Denmark will be looking to avenge the painful knock-out stage loss at their home World Championship. Considering Romania’s form and the Scandinavian team’s depleted roster it will be a tough task, with the likes of Line Jørgensen, Louise Burgaard, Maria Fisker and Mette Gravholt side-lined, but Ryde is careful not to discount Denmark’s chances:

“Denmark, as we know since the World Championship, can play very tactical. They have some new young players in the team, Dornonville de la Cour and Tranborg in the right back positon, and they know how to shoot! Both goalkeepers have a very high standard.”