On the second day of the main round in Herning, Hungary defeated Tunisia 26-21. While the Europeans do not have chances to access the semifinals, there’s an important dispute to finish among the first seven teams of the championship in order to secure a place in one of the three pre-Olympic tournaments.
Going into the main round with 1 point only made it difficult for the Hungarians to finish among the first two teams in order to advance to the semifinals, and the lost against Denmark last night ended with those slight chances. However, the two remaining matches of this competition are very important, and the coached by Csonkyai and Matic took a big step against Tunisia.
The match started of better for the Africans, who were leading 1-3 after 4 minutes and despite the comeback from the Hungarians (5-5 at 10’), took the lead again after 16’ (5-7). However, that advantage was again turned around by the Europeans, who were now winning 10-7 with 8 minutes left of the first half, with goals from Mate Lekai, Bence Banhidi, Laszlo Nagy and Zsolt Balogh, who made his comeback after having suffered an from a sprained ankle during the group round.
The first half finished with a 16-14 advantage for Hungary. On the second period, Hungary stepped on the gas pedal and broadened the gap thanks to a 6-2 partial between the 5th and the 19th minute that established a 7-goal difference for the Europeans (24-17). In the end, it was a victory for the Hungarians, 26-21, who will have a two-day rest before their last match of the main round against Norway.
Antonio Gerona, coach of Egypt, expressed his feelings after the match: “Congratulations to Hungary, they lead the match from the 18th minute, they deserved this victory. I’m happy today because the defense was so good on the second half, especially with the open defense. But we missed 19 shots on the match, some of them clear situations, even without goalkeeper, some shots from 6-meters, and it was too much. Despite the good defense we had on the second half, we were only able to score 7 goals, and of course nowadays, scoring 7-goals it’s impossible to win the match. This team has been working hard but these mistakes that we made were too many to recover the difference in the scoreboard. Now we have just two days to recover, the team is so tired, and we have those two days to focus on the match against Egypt to get a good classification”.
Vladan Matic also commented on the match during the press conference: “Today it was a very important match for us. In the first ten minutes we played very nervous, but after those ten minutes we played much better on defense and our goalkeeper started to save some balls and then we played confidently. In the last ten minutes we had some problems with the open defense displayed by the Tunisian team but we’re happy because we wanted to win”.
Mate Lekai was one of the key players on today’s victory from Hungary. The playmaker had traveled to Budapest early in the morning to be present in the birth of his first son (Noé) and was back in Herning past midday, according with a tweet from journalist Lars Krogh Jeppesen.
— Lars krogh jeppesen (@kroghjeppesen) January 20, 2019
Despite such hectic day, he was named player of the match and scored 7 goals for his team, but in press conference, he stressed the difficulty of playing such a tough tournament: “I think it was a tough match, I felt both teams were tired. We have lots of matches in this competition, 11 days, 7 matches, it’s unbelievable. I think this the reason why both teams made more mistakes, because normally when somebody is tired, he will make more mistakes. But I’m happy with the result, but I think we could’ve done more, because our goalkeeper saved a lot for us, but the Tunisian defense was good on the second half and we could only score 10 goals. We have two days now, I hope we can do a good regeneration, I hope the two injured players that came back today also get better. We will fight against Norway, and good luck for Tunisia, I hope they beat Egypt”.
Photo credit: Aniko Kovacs – IHF