Defending South American Games title holders, Argentina, faced World champion Brazil last Thursday in Viña del Mar, Chile, in an anticipated final of the event. The ‘meninas’ grasped a tie against all-time rivals after having been down on the score during most of the 60 minutes of the game. It was 23-23 when the final whistle blew and the Argentinians celebrated it as a victory, while the Brazilians felt it like a defeat.
Last December Brazil stunned the entire world of handballwhen they obtained their first World Championship after beating Serbia in a boiling Kombank Arena. And while the ‘meninas’ were enjoying a historic moment for their country and the entire South American handball, their neighbors from Argentina were celebrating their own accomplishment as they reached the 19th place in Serbia, equating their best result from China 2009.
So when both teams were due to meet in the South American Games in Chile, no one expected Brazil to be stunned by the less experienced Argentinians. In fact, Morten Soubak called 11 of the players that had hung a gold medal in their necks only three months ago to re-gain a title that had belonged to them on the first edition of the Games, in 2002.
It was an intense match where the conducted by Eduardo Peruchenatook the lead from the very first minute and were never down on the scoreboard.Morten Soubak’s girls were clueless against the tough and active defense and whenever they were able to surpass them, they had some trouble trying to score past goalie Marysol Carratú, who had a superb performance.The ‘verdeamarelas’ felt uncomfortable for most parts of the game and the Danish coach used its two timeouts after only nine minutes of the first half, when Argentina lead 7-2.
The first half was favorable for the Argies,who went to the dressing rooms high in confidence and with a 15-11 lead on the score. On the second half, the World champions saw their pride hurt and reacted, but they had a really hard time trying to even the match. Peruchena’s girls played brilliantly, with very few mistakes, and even broadened the gap up to six goals. Alexandra Nascimento and Ana Paula Rodriguez took the initiative and lifted the spirit of their team scoring most of Brazil’s goals, together with goalkeeper Jéssica Oliveira, who had a stunning second half and secluded Barbara Arenhart(best goalkeeper in Serbia 2013) to the bench.
It was only one minute and 30 seconds before the end of the game that Brazil tied the match for the first time through a blazing 9-meter shot from Deonise Cavaleiro. Argentina managed to keep the ball until the passive signal was marked by the referees. Rising star Elke Karsten (18), who had had an outstanding performance, missed the shot and Brazil hurried through a fast break, but Soubak used his last time out to organize the last attack. With only ten seconds left the world champions played a fast ball and left Cavaleiro rage into the six meter line with the last shot, but a last epic save by Carratú saved the day and prevented what would have been a painful defeat for the Argentinians.
“It is evident that we played below are level, but we must admit that our rival had a great game and they were good in all phases. It was Argentina’s best game I’ve seen in all my years in the national team”, confessed captain Fabiana ‘Dara’ Diniz with complete understanding of what had happened to radio program Handball de Primera.
Argie hero Marysol Carratú said she has “no clue about what happened on that last ball”, while youngster Karsten, admitted: “I’ll feel like a champion with the silver medal”; considering that Brazil will most likely take the gold with the goal difference (+41 against +19 for Argentina, with one game remaining for each). Argentinian captain Magdalena Decilio stressed the great progress made by her team, which had already been highlighted in Serbia by Thorir Hergeirsson, Kim Rasmussen and Jorge Dueñas during phase group.
Today, the last two matches will be played and Brazil will face Uruguay while Argentina will fight against home team Chile.
Want to watch the game? Here are the links (Spanish comments, credits to Argentinian Handball Confederation and Handball de Primera):
First half: http://vimeo.com/89114278
Second half: http://vimeo.com/89156841
TEXT: LAURA AGENA