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Date: 12/20/2015

The 22nd IHF Women's Handball World Championshop will finish on Sunday, with the Netherlands and Norway meeting to contest the coveted title. 

Jyske Bank BOXEN, Herning
Final: Netherlands vs Norway 17:15 local time

For Norway, it is their fifth IHF Women’s World Championship Final. For the Netherlands, it is their debut at this stage of the tournament. The ‘Oranje’ team made history when they reached the Semi-Final, defeating France in the Quarter-Final stage to proceed to the penultimate match where they faced Poland, whom they had already beaten once at Denmark 2015, in the group phase. 

The Netherlands played a spectacular game in the Semi-Final – as they have throughout the championship – to comfortably make their way to the Final after controlling the entire 60 minutes against Poland. The Semi-Final win continued the Netherlands unblemished record so far at Denmark 2015, which includes only one game that did not end in an outright victory for the Dutch. In Group B in Naestved, the Netherlands won all their matches with the exception of a draw against Sweden. 

The Netherlands won the group based on goal difference and therefore proceeded through the knock-out round via the most comfortable path possible, first pummelling Serbia to record a 36:20 win, before they sent France into the Placement Round, and Poland to the bronze-medal match. The Netherlands are therefore high on confidence and the euphoria of already recording their best ever result, no matter whether they top the podium or claim the silver medal. 

“I am very happy and very proud of the team. They have been training and fighting for such a long time, I am so happy we are in the final,” said Cornelia ‘Nycke’ Groot after the Semi-Final, for which she received the adidas Best Player of the Match award. “I’m insanely happy. I can’t describe how I feel. I’ve never been in a Final before. I’m incredibly proud and very tired after a very hard game.

“When you start playing handball you want to achieve the best possible and it has always been a dream to go to a final and win a gold medal.” 

The Netherlands are clearly ecstatic after their momentous win, and their mentality seems just right to put on a spectacular performance against the team that have shown they are the dominant force in women’s handball over recent years: Norway. 

Norway have one small imperfection on their Denmark 2015 record – a one-goal loss in their opening match against the Russian Federation. After the somewhat surprising result in the first game, after which all eyes were on stampeding Russia until they were knocked out in the Quarter-Final stage by Poland, Norway have steadily proved that the defeat was a one-off and that they are ready to claim their third current major international title – a chance that must surely be an additional source of motivation for the Scandinavian team. 

At the 2012 Olympic Games it was Norway who won the gold medal, defeating Montenegro in the Final to win their second consecutive Olympic title after they were on top of the podium at Beijing 2008. In 2014 they became European champions for the sixth time, continuing their record of winning a medal at every edition of the tournament since its inception in 1994. After that moment they have been looking to the end of 2015 for the IHF World Championship, where they have the opportunity to repeat their 2011 feat of holding all three major international titles concurrently – less than 12 months after France coincidentally did the same in the men’s competition when they raised the trophy at the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship in Qatar. 

Norway undeniably have more experience in medal matches than the Netherlands, but both play a similar style of handball with lethal counter attacks, strong goalkeepers, and even the exact same statistics for their impact attackers Nora Mork and Estevana Polman, who have both scored 43 goals to rank as the highest scorers for their teams. 

After their extra-time Semi-Final win after a tough 70 minutes against Romania, Amanda Kurtovic promised of the meeting with the Netherlands: “You can expect a game with a lot of tempo. But first we play defence, then we run.” 

Defence will be key for both sides, with Norway’s 6-0 perhaps a little stronger but Netherlands holding the edge between the posts with the top-ranked goalkeeper at the competition – Tess Wester, who currently sits on a 45% save rate. 

As Norway coach Thorir Hergeirsson said about the Final, the teams’ history cannot be taken into account and the win is up for grabs for either side:

“We are very happy to be in the Final – it was not a given before the competition. We look forward to Sunday to meet the Netherlands in a 50/50 game.”