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Date: 5/27/2012

The goal difference of three teams equal in points had to decide the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Guadalajara, Spain.  And Croatia was the lucky team to book their tickets for London after beating Spain 23:22 – and all players on the field could celebrate their participation under the five rings, as the host took the qualification, too, despite the defeat. On the other hand the Dutch players shed tears though they had won their last match against Argentina.


As Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands were equal with four points the goal difference in the direct duels of this trio had to decide – and in the end Spain finish first with +3 goals ahead of Croatia (0) and Netherlands (-3). This final result means that Spain and Croatia participate in London with both men’s and women’s teams.


Argentina vs. Netherlands 21:30 (9:15)

By beating Argentina the Dutch team did all they could do and needed to do to hope for their first ever participation at the Olympic handball tournament. The Pan Americans finish the tournament without a point, whilst the Netherlands have four points on their account after the victory against Croatia and the defeat against host Spain. After a 3:0 for the Argentines, Laura van der Heijden and Yvette Broch were the keys to the clear halftime result with a gap of six goals, as they scored eight of the 15 goals for the Dutch.  After the break the distance remained the same for a long time before Angela Malestein imprinted the game and decided it latest when scoring the 26:17 in minute 51. Argentina was able to keep this distance but was far beyond to endanger the physical stronger European team. Top scorers were Broch with six goals from seven attempts and Decilio with five goals for Argentina. With the final whistle the waiting time for the Netherlands began, until the last match of the tournament had been finished – and in the end they were highly disappointed not reaching their dream destination London.


Statements after the match:

Henk Groener, coach Netherlands: We had two amazing and difficult matches against Spain and Croatia, and Argentina has fought until the end today. Now I can say we did our job in the best possible way, there’s only left for us to wait for Spain to see whether we will go to London or not! When we qualify, we directly will start thinking about the preparation for the Olympics.


Yvette Broch, player Netherlands: It was not our best match, but in any case we did our job and we remain waiting now.


Miguel Angel Interllige, coach Argentina: We played a fluid game and we seized the free spaces, we did not make the mistake of changing so many players to defend more strongly, as we did against Croatia. We played better today, more continuously and we have improved match by match. We need more of our players to play in Europe to maintain the quality of our national team.


Magdalena Decilio, player Argentina: It was a very positive match, we improved during the tournament. The Netherlands played really quick with counter attacks.



Spain vs. Croatia 22:23 (10:12)

They had to shiver until the final second, but then the Croats jumped for joy: Thanks to this closest possible victory they secured their place at the 2012 London Olympic Games ahead of the Netherlands. With a tie in the final match, Croatia would have been out and the Dutch team would have qualified. So the pressure on Croatia was immense, but from the 5:4 on they were in lead most of the time against the host – which made their way to London despite the final defeat thanks to their clear 28:24 victory against the Netherlands on Saturday. Maja Zebic was the key to the success, as she again had been top scorer of her team with eight goals. Though the Spaniards defended strong the Croatians were able to extend the gap pre-decisively to 19:14 with only eleven minutes left. But the tournament host showed a great fighting spirit and character – and 70 seconds before the end the match was close to be turned at 20:21. But then Franic and Tatari hit the net – and decided the thriller though the Iberians scored the last goal by their top scorer Carmen Martin (nine goals).


Statements after the match:

Vladimir Canjuga, coach Croatia: I believe if we have a good day we can win against any team. Against the Netherlands the psychological factor affected us so much. We knew that Spain was tired from the match against the Netherlands and so we needed to push at the beginning to achieve a difference which was good enough in the scoreboard. Now we will have three weeks off and then we will start preparing for London.


Kristina Franic, player Croatia: I want to congratulate Spain, which tried to win like we did. If we are mentally on the right way, we can beat anyone. In the first match the pressure made us lose the match.


Jorge Dueñas, coach Spain: We knew it would be a very difficult match and at the beginning we lacked focus on attack, moreover in the positional attack. In the second half we started doubting and even had a critical moment, when Croatia was ahead with five goals. We needed more rhythm in attack and needed to take more risk to achieve the draw. But at the end we had to assure the first place.


Eli Pinedo, player Spain: The truth is that we were not fine in attack and at the end we had to sustain the score to go to London. We qualified but not in the manner we would have liked.



Results of previous matches:

Friday 25 May:

Croatia vs. Netherlands 28:29 (12:14)

Spain vs. Argentina 31:15 (15:9)


Saturday 26 May:

Argentina vs. Croatia 21:31 (10:18)

Netherlands vs. Spain 24:28 (13:14)