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Date: 12.04.2016

Review: 2016 IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament I – Gdansk, Poland

Poland and Tunisia qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from the IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament I held at the ERGO Arena in Gdansk, Poland.

The host nation and Tunisia already had their tickets for Rio 2016 going into their final game against each other, as FYR Macedonia and Chile’s Brazilian dream ended like that of the Macedonian coach Ivica Obrvan who resigned after failing to qualify on day two.

For full statistics, reports and pictures, visit the Gdansk mini-site HERE.

Match Day 1

Chile vs. Tunisia 29:35 (12:17)
Tunisia put one foot in Brazil with a six-goal win over the South Americans in the opening match of six Olympic Qualification games at the ERGO Arena.

With their influential Polish-based club player Marco Oneto watching from the stands due to injury, Chile were always struggling against a strong Tunisian side who made the quarter-finals of the last Olympic Games, at London 2012.

Led by the precise and lethal Oussam Boughanmi, who scored 11 goals, Hafedh Zouabi’s Tunisian side could not move away from Chile, led by golden boy Rodrigo Salinas, who scored seven strikes in the first 30 minutes (11 in total).

The half-time rest seemed to inspire Tunisia and with a third of the match left they were home and dry with an eight-goal cushion (26:18) at 40 minutes.

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas:
Oussama BOUGHANMI (TUN) – Left Wing

Poland vs. FYR Macedonia 25:20 (13:9)
In front of a sold-out 10,000 capacity ERGO Arena, hosts Poland more than lived up to the pressure of being the home side, beating the Macedonians by five goals.

Despite the clear scoreline, the game was anything but easy for Talant Dujshebaev’s side who were looking to put the pain of their home EHF EURO 2016 campaign behind them.

FYR Macedonia were left frustrated by their early ill-discipline as Poland raced to a 3:1 lead thanks to saves from Slawomir Szmal in goal and the big 110kg pivot Stojanche Stoilov sitting in the naughty chair on the side of the court after getting an early two-minute.

Poland went six up (16:10) with 37 minutes gone with Michal Jurecki the heartbeat of the side; breaking down play, winning penalties and generally corralling his side with his seven strikes, along with Karol Bielecki from the penalty spot.

Best Player of the Match presented by adidas:
 Michal JURECKI (POL) – Left Back

Match Day 2

FYR Macedonia vs. Tunisia 26:32 (10:17)
Two victories, one ticket – Tunisia added themselves to the Rio 2016 men’s handball competition after beating FYR Macedonia in the opening match of day two in Gdansk.

Zouabi’s side inflicted early damage on their opponents as they restricted Kiril Lazarov – and his team – to just two goals in the first nine minutes, going up 7:2 thanks to FC Barcelona’s Wael Jallouz and best player of the match, right wing Oussama Hosni, but also with a porous Macedonian defence resulting in Issam Tej, the big Tunisian pivot easily winning against Stojanche Stoilov in the battle of the 110kg pivots.

Tunisia were even pulling ahead despite serving two-minute suspensions and found themselves 10:3 up just before the 15-minute mark – despite Macedonian coach Ivica Obrvan sending Goce Georgievski out to man mark Jallouz after just 10 minutes.

Half-time would be a welcome break for Obrvan’s side but nothing could inspire his troops to overcome such a deficit and as the Macedonian players conceded defeat moments before the final buzzer and shook their opponent’s hands, the Tunisian squad celebrated wildly when the final result was confirmed and they went straight to Zouabi and threw him in the air repeatedly in ecstasy.

Coach Obrvan announced his resignation in the post-match press conference.

Best Player of the Match presented by adidas:
Oussama HOSNI (TUN) – Right Wing

Poland vs. Chile 35:27 (19:13)
Hosts Poland thrilled a sold-out 10,000 crowd as they qualified for their first Olympic Games since 2008 in Beijing.

Already with a three-goal (10:7) lead in the first quarter, Poland, who rotated and rested many of their players from their six-goal win over FYR Macedonia, extended their lead to five (13:8) in the 21st minute as the tough opening 30 minutes paved the way for the home side to seal a win.

Best Player of the Match presented by adidas: Michal SZYBA (POL) – Right Back

Match Day 3

FYR Macedonia vs. Chile 30:27 (17:14)
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 resignation, 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 and their side were never in trouble.

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

Tunisia vs. Poland 24:28 (13:15)
Poland won with ease against Tunisia in the battle of the unbeaten teams 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 and a minute’s silence was then observed impeccably 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 and the result was never in doubt.

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.

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

Statistics – 2016 IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament I – Gdansk, Poland

Best Attack (Goals Scored): 91 (TUN)
Highest Amount of Shots: 155 (TUN)
Best Defence (Goals Conceded): 71 (POL)
Most Shots Faced: 133 (CHI)
Most Shots Saved: 39 (TUN)
Best Goalkeeper: Slawomir SZMAL (POL) 44% save ratio (18/41)
Top Scorer: Oussama BOUGHANMI (TUN) & Rodrigo SALINAS (CHI) – 20
Top Assists: Kiril LAZAROV (MKD) – 10
Top Scorer + Assists: Kiril LAZAROV (MKD) – 26

Photos: ZPRP