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Date: 10.04.2016

Group leaders Poland aim to finish off their IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament I campaign with a win at the ERGO Arena in Gdansk in front of their home fans, while their fellow Rio 2016-bound opponents Tunisia hope to spoil the Polish party.

FYR Macedonia open the day against Chile without points as their focus changes to France 2017 qualification.

FYR Macedonia vs. Chile – ERGO Arena, Gdansk, Poland
Sunday 10 April, 18.00hrs (local time)

The battle of the ‘pointless’ teams for nothing other than pride opens the final day of games in Gdansk.

Macedonian coach Ivica Obrvan resigned after watching his lethargic side fail against an exciting Tunisia team yesterday (Saturday 9 April) which ended their Rio 2016 quest.

In the aftermath of that loss, FYR Macedonia replaced left backs Filip Kuzmanovski and Filip Taleski with right wing Nikola Kosteski and pivot Nikola Markoski as they aim to return to Skopje with a win.

Kiril Lazarov sits on 993 international goals after scoring eight each in his two games in Gdansk, and if he repeats that today he will go over 1,000 international goals but that will be little consolation after a tournament in which he said he was lost for words with the performance after the Tunisia defeat.

Chile, bottom of the group on goal difference, have kept in touch with both Poland and Tunisia in their two matches and will fancy a positive result in the match today with an historic win and their left back Javier Frelijj was happy with his sides’ performance against Poland which can “only pay off in the future.” He also promised the fans that they will do everything to beat their European opponents today.

Rodrigo Salinas, who scored 11 in his opening game against Tunisia, was kept quiet by Poland, just registering a solitary strike, but left back Erwin Feuchtmann and right wing Felipe Maurin with six goals each provided firepower when needed.

Tunisia vs. Poland – ERGO Arena, Gdansk, Poland
Sunday 10 April, 20.30hrs (local time)

“Our team celebration will start once we win the tournament,” these were the comments in the post-match press conference from new Poland coach Talant Dujshebaev after he guided his side to their second win in two matches in Gdansk with a 35:27 win over Chile yesterday (Saturday 9 April).

Despite admitting that their mission was accomplished, the former IHF World Handball Player of the Year and Olympic gold medallist sees their evening match against Tunisia as must-win match and test as he feels the team still has a lot of work to do and to improve before the qualification starts for the 2017 IHF World Championship in France.

A win for either Tunisia or Poland will mean they finish with three wins out of three, top the group and gain top seed in the Olympic draw later this month.

Dujshebaev made his second of two player replacements ahead of the final match with left winger Przemyslaw Krajewski re-joining the squad at the expense of centre back Piotr Maslowski – Krajewski himself had taken a breather for the Chile match, replaced by Likasz Gierak, the KS Pogon Handball Szczecin centre back.

As the second game, Dujshebaev was able to try out his less experienced and rotate his squad extensively with Gierak and Andrzej Rojewski being a highlight.

For Kielce pivot Mateusz Kus, a new addition to the Polish squad, the past 48 hours has all been a blur.

“Playing in our national team feels like a dream come true,” he said. “Your heart beats faster and our fans create the best atmosphere so it’s an honour.”

Slawomir Szmal sat out the whole Chile game in goal for Poland as Marcin Wichary took to defensive duties and he can be expected to return to the squad, while Tunisia will have to keep an eye out for Karol Bielecki who has 11 goals in his two games – seven of which from the penalty spot, a 100% record.

Tunisia, celebrating wildly on court after easily beating FYR Macedonia yesterday to confirm their Rio 2016 ticket, will also be motivated to win the group and their influential left wing Oussama Boughanmi will be targeted by the tough Polish defence after scoring 11 against Chile and then seven against the Macedonians to lead the scoring in Gdansk.

The north Africans started at a blistering pace; leading by five before the first team time-out which eventually won the match and along with Wael Jallouz – chief creator in attack – their forward play can be dangerous.

Equally though, Marouen Maggaiz in the Tunisia goal has been impressive and he singled out the team ethic and maturity of the young players in his side as evidence of their strength.

Photos: ZPRP

For further information on the Rio 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Gdansk, visit the Polish Handball Federation mini-site 

You can also follow the events from Poland on Twitter (@ZPRP_official),
Facebook and Instagram (@handball_phf).