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Date: 10.04.2016

FYR Macedonia opened the final day in Gdansk with a win against Chile as Coach Ivica Obrvan, in his final game since resigning, rested numerous players.

Group leaders Poland finished 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 over fellow Rio 2016-bound opponents Tunisia.

For all statistics, official and referee nominations and match reports CLICK HERE.

FYR Macedonia vs. Chile 30:27 (17:14) – ERGO Arena, Gdansk, Poland

With both teams already out of contention for Rio 2016 and thoughts already moved on to IHF Men’s World Championship 2017 qualification, the stage was set for the early game in Gdansk to be underwhelming.

This, combined with Macedonian coach Ivica Obrvan resigning after watching his lethargic side fail against an exciting Tunisia team yesterday (Saturday 9 April), may have meant a game lacking in any drama or excitement, but for those fans inside the ERGO Arena it was anything but a quiet exciting for the team teams.

Obrvan decided to rest key players Dejan Manaskov, Velko Markoski, Borko Ristovski, Goce Georgievski and Kiril Lazarov for all or most of the game - Ristovski only came on for two 7m penalties and one shot - while Lazarov, going into the game on 993 international goals, will have to wait another day to score an historic 1,000th.

The big Macedonian pivot Stojanche Stoilov also played for less than a half but even he found it hard to pull away from an open and aggressive Chilean defence and blisteringly fast attack.

Even though Chile were never in front for the whole match, they kept in touch for the first half as halfway through they were just one behind (9:8) but the Macedonians managed to quickly strike a double, going 12:9 up three minutes later – a three-goal lead they kept at the break (17:14).

But whatever Coach Mateo Garralda said at half-time did the trick – Chile came out firing with three unanswered goals from Erwin Feuchtmann (top scored for Chile with10 in total) to even the score at 17:17 – including two fast-breaks after poor court handling from the Macedonians against the open Chilean defence - and it was game on.

Despite a 4:0 run by the Europeans to make it 24:19 with just over 15 minutes remaining, Chile, displaying mental toughness and experience, combined with stamina in the final quarter – all of which highlights the progression and development of handball in South America over recent years – came back again as Feuchtmann scored three of his sides’ four goals in an unanswered run ending in the final minute.

It was 29:27 to FYR Macedonia and as the Chileans desperately tried to bring it within one, Filip Mirkulovski smashed home to at least end the tournament for his side with a clear win – at least on paper.

Nikola Kosteski’s six goals made him top scorer for the Macedonians as they played for the last time with centre back Naumche Mojsovski, who announced his international retirement and received a large applause from the Macedonian fans inside - although Kiril Lazarov said in the post-match press conference that he would hope to play with him again in their next international matches in June.

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas: Naumche MOJSOVSKI (MKD) – Centre Back

Tunisia vs. Poland 24:28 (13:15) – ERGO Arena, Gdansk, Poland

Poland won with ease against Tunisia in the battle of the unbeaten teams in Gdansk to confirm their top-level seeding place in the Rio 2016 draw after winning their group, while Tunisia will be placed in the third-level seeding place after the loss saw them finish in second place.

Before the game started Polish left back Karol Bielecki received a fair play award from the Polish Handball Federation handed over by the President of National Olympic Committee of Poland and the President of the Polish Handball Federation, Andrzej Krasnicki.

As the teams took to the court to start the match a minute’s silence was then observed impeccably by everyone inside the ERGO Arena in memory of the passing of Ketari Kais, Vice President of the Tunisian Handball League.

Poland national team Coach Talant Dujshebaev had said before the match that his side can start celebrating only once they confirmed the group win and celebrate they did - on court. His side threw a goal party as during the first 20 minutes eight different players scored to put the home side 11:7 up.

But the first half, which ended 15:13 in favour of Poland, was little evidence of what was to come in the second period.

With both teams fielding full-strength sides, the game sprung into life with 34 minutes on the clock (17:14) as Polish left wing Przemyslaw Krajewski appeared to take offence at Tunisian centre back Sobhi Saied. A pushing and shoving match ensued with Michael Jurecki rushing over to lend his teammate a hand.

The Iranian referees were left with no option other than to give both Jurecki and Saied two-minute suspensions, with the other Jurecki, Michal, also receiving one for his behaviour from the bench.

Passions were boiling over and the hostile atmosphere towards the Tunisians inspired them to pull within one (17:16) just two minutes later – with Oussama Hosni’s strike for his sides’ 16th goal marked by the impressive right wing making a ‘I can’t hear you now’ gesture towards the Polish bench as he ran off in celebration.

A series of 2:1 runs in favour of Poland in which Mateusz Jachlewski scored in all three put Poland in control at five goals up (23:18) with under 15 minutes remaining.

That lead was never in doubt and as Dujshebaev called his last team time-out at 26:22 with just over five minutes remaining to calm his team, they played out the last moments comfortably to take at 28:24 win.

At the final buzzer, both teams were all smiles and in celebratory mode; the Polish players took their time waving goodbye to home soil and later brought their children on court as, like the Tunisians, they start to plot their way to Olympic gold in South America.

“I have never played in front of such an amazing audience,” said Polish newcomer Lukasz Gierak. “I will analyse my performances with the coaches and I will do my best to take my chance and fight for my spot in the Polish national team for Rio 2016 and beyond.”

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas: Karol BIELECKI (POL) – Left Back

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).

Photos: ZPRP