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Date: 12/20/2015

After suffering defeats in their respective Semi-Finals at the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship, Romania and Poland must rise again to fight for the bronze medal on Sunday 20 December. 

Jyske Bank BOXEN, Herning 
Bronze Medal Match: Poland vs Romania 14:45 local time

It cannot be an easy thing to recover after the disappointment of a Semi-Final loss, but Romania and Poland must do just that as they look to go home with more than just memories of Denmark 2015. 

Poland could not challenge the Netherlands in their Semi-Final, with the ‘Oranje’ team immediately taking control and never looking back. At the final whistle the score board showed a 30:25 win for the Netherlands, who also beat Poland in the preliminary round in Group B. It is small consolation for Poland that the score line was narrower in this meeting, and the determined team can be expected to be ready to throw all they have at Romania. 

Coach Kim Rasmussen has confirmed that his team are far from done, looking with anticipation toward the meeting against Romania on Sunday. 

“The Netherlands deserved the win; they played great and they played better than us today,” said the Danish coach after the defeat. “We are very disappointed but I am very proud of the girls, how they fought back – we have 48 hours until the next game.
“I will be ready for Sunday and I will do my best to get the girls ready. We will have to focus on what will be around our necks, and it won’t be this [indicating his tournament accreditation] – hopefully something heavier. In the end, if this team really, really wants something, and we can keep our heads in the locker room and just play handball with their heart and their emotions, then we have the chance to bring something around our neck. We just have to understand that we are here again – we have one more shot and we’re going to go for it again. I will go in front and I will drag them to it if I have to, but I will support them and really back the girls up. They are fighting well and we are here. We are proud of that, but we want something heavy around our necks.”

Romania are undoubtedly feeling the same, and coach Tomas Ryde – also a Scandinavian, from Sweden – will likely have the power to ensure his team step on the court confident that the medal can be theirs. He was positive after their narrow loss to Norway in the Semi-Final, which went into extra time and was a superb display of world-class handball from both sides. 

Ryde has led his team through a spectacular period of development since they finished ninth at the 2014 European championship – two places in front of Poland who ranked 11th. The team are performing as a cohesive unit with excellent performances from many of his players, including lethal right wing Adriana Nechita, rising star Eliza Buceschi, and outstanding goalkeeper Paula Ungureanu. But none stand out like Cristina Neagu, who is the top scorer at Denmark 2015 alongside Montenegro’s Jovanka Radicevic with 53 goals. 

Neagu is Romania’s most dangerous player and Rasmussen’s defensive strategy will certainly be designed with her in mind. If his two strong goalkeepers Weronika Gawlik (32% save rate) and Anna Wysokinska (34%) are at their best it should be a good contest between the posts, as both have recorded impressive results at the top of their game with save rates of over 50%.