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Date: 11/4/2011

What a competition day it was in Almaty on Thursday 3 November, when the I IHF Women’s Intercontinental Challenge Trophy threw off in the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace. After a rather charming opening ceremony, it was time for host Kazakhstan to open the tournament against the winner of the African Continental Phase, the team of Congo.

CONGO vs. KAZAKHSTAN 26:32 (14:15)

It was a great opening for host Kazakhstan, and a second-half performance that makes them the favourites for winning the inaugural Women’s Intercontinental Challenge Trophy. After a very tight and equal first half in which none of the teams could gain a significant advantage, it was the better technical preparation of the Kazakhstan team that made the difference at yesterday’s (3 November) match. In the second half the Kazakhstan team found a way around the open defence of the African representative and led by Alexandrova who scored 11 goals, concluding the match with a victory. The best scorers for Congo were Diroko Diroko and Zoubabela Grase, each of them marking 7 points in the opponent’s goal.

CUBA vs. FINLAND 26:25 (12:12)

The spectators at the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace witnessed a real drama in the second match, where Cuba faced the European winner from Finland. After a very equal first half, in which both teams scored 12 times, Cuba had a better opening in the second half, but never so convincing to make an advantage that would give them safe passage to victory. The resilient Finnish team was always present in the match, which brought the final minutes to a real drama in which the Cuban team was more resourceful than their opponent and won the match by one goal.

The Cuban team had a great team performance in which Telles Delgado and Mesa Matos scored 5 times each, while Finland’s best scorer was Lillqvist who hit the target 6 times.