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Date: 4/7/2012

Host Spain can celebrate a little jubilee: After winning their second match at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Alicante they qualified for the Men’s Olympics Tournament for the tenth time – and the ninth straight time since 1980. The second position in this tournament is still unknown after Poland tied with Serbia in a nail-biting thriller. Before their final match against Spain, Poland have three points on their account, whilst Serbia have only one.


Serbia vs. Poland 25:25 (14:15)

Another thriller in Alicante: After the highly close matches on the first match day, Saturday’s top duel ended with the draw, as the first of all current qualification matches. Three straight and late goals after the 22:25 saved the Serbs from an early elimination in Alicante. After beating Poland on home ground at the European Championships in January the Poles were close to take revenge and qualify for London – but this decision has to be taken on Sunday 8 April.

The duel of the European top nations was equal in the first 30 minutes. Especially Serb Rastko Stojkovic, playing for the Polish club Kielce, was highly motivated and scored three straight goals in the middle of the first half, bringing the lead to his team. The Serbian defense stood strong – including goalkeeper Darko Stanic, but the EURO Silver medalist was behind with one goal at the break.

The game remained on eye level until minute 55, when the score was 23:22 for Poland. And Bielecki and Tkaczyk seemed to have paved the way to London scoring the next two Polish goals. But as they then missed too many chances and did not have enough energy in defense, Serbia could equalize by goals of top scorer Ivan Nikcevic (2, in total 6 goals) and Prodanovic.

So now Serbia need to beat Algeria and have to hope for a Polish defeat against Spain to qualify for London, whilst for Poland a draw against the host would already be enough to proceed to the Olympics.


Statements after the match:

Bogdan Wenta, coach Poland: “It was a very equal match we had the chance to win but in the last minutes our performance level decreased. We still have possibilities to win in this Tournament.” 

Slawomir Szmal, player Poland: “It has been a match with a lot of pressure. Serbia did a good job. Let's not forget that Serbia is runner-up to the EURO 2012. We played a great match until minute 59. 

Veselin Vukovic, coach Serbia: “We started great, we tried the impossible until minute 45. The Polish team now depends on themselves and unfortunately we don't.”

Dalibor Cutura, player Serbia: “Our defense in the last five minutes was our salvation. It's a pity that one of these teams is left out of the Olympic Games. We must now wait and see what happens in tomorrow’s matches.”



Spain vs. Algeria 28:20 (14:9)

As last of the three hosts of the Olympic Qualification Tournaments, Spain made their way to London already on Saturday. After beating Serbia in the opening match the Iberians clashed African runners-up Algeria in a one-sided game and celebrated their qualification to London. To become number one in their tournament the Spaniards at least need a draw against Poland on Sunday 8 April. 

Match winner for the host was goalkeeper Jose Manuel Sierra with 18 saves; another key was the high shot efficiency of 64 percent in attack. Algeria was on equal level until minute 23 and the score of 7:9, before the Spaniards closed the gate in defense and Viktor Tomas scored a triple strike to the half time result of 14:9. And it took the host only eight minutes more to decide the game, as they extended the gap to 19:11. Knowing that they have won and qualified for the Olympics they decelerated and allowed Algeria to keep the distance in a bearable way. Top scorers were Mokrani with eight goals for Algeria and Canellas who scored six times for Spain.


Statements after the match:

Salah Bouchekriou, coach Algeria: “Our team was very weak, and there is only one thing left to do: to congratulate Spain for their qualification to the Olympic Games.” 

Mohamed Mokrani, player Algeria: “We were the Cinderella in this group, and that's why we were able to play without any pressure. We will now prepare for the World Championship 2013. We hoped that our defense would make it harder for Spain, but they have more resources and we were not able to beat them.”

Valero Rivera, coach Spain: “I was very satisfied with the attitude my players had shown today. We had to adapt our defense to many systems and are happy with this victory and to reach our objective, to qualify for London. Today Sierra played sensational. Against Poland we are playing to win, as a Spanish team is always playing to win, what we have demonstrated at many occasions and will continue on Sunday. We are going to win the match and the tournament.”

Jose Manuel Sierra, player Spain: “We are not used to the system Algeria is playing, this made it hard for us. Luckily we could count on this great defense.”


Friday’s results:

Poland vs. Algeria 28:27 (11:13)

Spain vs. Serbia 30:27 (11:10)


Sunday’s matches:

17:30 local time: Serbia vs. Algeria

20:15 local time: Spain vs. Poland