Norway have claimed their first two points on this main round after defeating Egypt 32-38. Tomorrow they will face a tough match against Sweden, with the chance to get close to a semifinal spot. The Egyptians fought hard all 60 minutes, but were unable to catch up with the Scandinavians.
The match started off better for the Africans, who put themselves 0-3 ahead after the first 4 minutes. Sander Sagosen scored the first goal for the Scandinavians after 5 minutes, from the 7-meter line. After 9 minutes, Norway were able to take the lead after a goal scored by Magnus Rød (6-5), but the match would not be easy at all for the conducted by Christian Berge.
It was on the 18th minute in which they were able to create a three goal advantage: two consecutive goals from Sagosen put Norway 12-9 ahead and forced David Davis to call Egypt’s first timeout. With one minute left of the first period, Torbjørn Bergerud made two consecutive saves to keep Egypt at a two-goal distance (16-14) and saved again at 29:33 to take his team to the locker rooms with that two-goal advantage. He would finish the first half with an impressive 42% of saves (10/24).
Three minutes into the second half Karim Abdelrahim saw a red card after a tough foul against Magnus Rød, who had finished the first period with 5 goals. With his sixth goal, he would put Norway 4 goals ahead for the first time in the match (19-15), after 4 minutes. While the Scandinavians seemed to be finding the spaces and taking a good advantage, the Africans played patiently and reaching the first 15 minutes of the last period, they had reduced the difference to one (23-22), thanks, in part, to some key saves from Karim Hendawy on the goal.
Egypt had at least three chances to tie the encounter, but couldn’t score, and Norway did not stay still; at 20 minutes they were, again, ahead by three thanks to goals from Magnus Jøndal, Rød and Kristian Bjørnsen (26-23). Bergerud saved another penalty shot, this time to Ahmed Elahmar, but a minute later Eslam Eissa would score his second goal to stay close on the scoreboard (28-26) with 4 minutes left to be played. With only 2 minutes left, Sander Sagosen reached his 10th goal to put a safe distance (30-27) and in the end, two more goals from Rød, who also scored 10, set the final 31-28.
In less than 24 hours, Norway (tomorrow at 18:00) will have a very important match in their aspirations for a semifinal spot. In a Scandinavian clash, the conducted by Berge will face Sweden, who have six points in the group and are leaders among co-hosts Denmark.
Norwegian team captain Bjarte Myrhol talked about the difficulty of tonight’s match against the Africans: “Egypt has had matches like this all throughout the championship and they always fight back, when you think you have an advantage they always come back and that’s mentally hard to play against, and we also know that the quality within the Egyptian team is very, very high, so it was no surprise that the game was so close”. Regarding tomorrow’s match, he said: “It’s gonna be a new game tomorrow, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare so we have to just go back to the hotel, try to rest as much as possible and then we’ll be ready for tomorrow”, but when asked about the fact that they’ll be playing their 7th match in 12 days, the Skjern line player responded: “We cannot do nothing about it so we just have to keep on going”.
Author of 10 goals, right back Magnus Rød, also talked about today’s victory: “I felt like Egypt has a very strong team and they never gave up, we had a lot of leads with two or three goals and we didn’t quite manage to stay up, and Egypt fought very hard to get back on track”.
HP: Do you think it will be harder to prepare for tomorrow’s match mentally or physically?
Rød: “I think physically, because we do not have a lot of hours before the game starts tomorrow, but that’s the way it is, and we knew it when we entered this main round, so that’s something we just have to prepare for”.
Photo credit: IHF