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Date: 12/22/2013

It took 16 years, until the Danish women’s team is back on a podium of a World Championship. In 1997 the Danes had become World Champions in Germany, later they had lost three bronze final matches in 2001, 2005 and 2011 to finish on an unlucky fourth position. But on Sunday (22 December) they made their medal dream come true by beating the surprise team of Poland in the bronze final of the Women’s World Championship in Serbia by 30:26 thanks to ten goals of outstanding Kristina Kristiansen. This victory means that all medalists come from preliminary round group B in Nis, as later on Serbia and Brazil will face in the final.

Bronze final: Denmark – Poland 30:26 (12:15)

Backed by the initial goals of wing player Ann-Grete Nörgaard, the Danish team started highly efficient and successful. After nine minutes they had advanced to 5:2, while Poland in the initial stages again had big problems in scoring like in the semi-final against Serbia including missing two penalty shots. But suddenly the team of Danish born coach Kim Rasmussen woke-up, stroke four consecutive goals to lead by 6:5.

Everything was open again, both teams were on eye level, and both could count on their strong goalkeepers Rikke Poulsen (Denmark) and Malgorzata Gapska. A triple strike caused the first Polish two goal advance, causing a Danish time-out in minute 24. But Pytlick’s team had completely adrifted from the winners’ way, lacking precision in their shots. So Poland – boosted by the vociferous fans – even increased the gap to four at 15:10, when Karolina Kudlacz netted in.

Poland managed to keep the three goal advance until the 20:17 in minute 38, then they were mainly overran by one player: Kristina Kristiansen. Scoring goal by goal, she turned the match around nearly on her own netting in eight times after the break. With Poland running out of steam, the Danes scored an impressive 7:1 series to 24:21, which could even not be stopped by two time-outs of the Poles.

And Kristiansen was unstoppable: Scoring the 25:22 was her eighth goal, followed by strike number nine for 26:23 – and her tenth goal for 28:23 finally meant the decision in a match with fully one-sided last 20 minutes. Though Poland left the court empty-handed, they still have reached their best ever position at a Women’s World Championship in history. Their best scorer was Alina Wojtas by four goals.

Statements after the match:

Kim Rasmussen, coach Poland: This match today showed us that handball in high-speed causes problems for us. During the second half, Denmark showed a great attacking performance. We knew what the Danish were doing, but they did it so fast that we were always one step behind.

Iwona Niedzwiedz, player Poland: After the first 30 minutes we went to the locker room with three goals ahead, although we could have been in lead by five or six goals. During the second half we had big problems with the Danish attack. We wanted this medal so much. Now we are really sad.

Karolina Kudlacz (player Poland): I’m sad. We did not have to lose this match. 45 minutes we played in a good shape. I have no explanation for the last quarter. For god, now we have to go home to relax. I think, in the next few days I do not want to see any handball.
Katarzyna Koniuszaniec (player Poland): Actually, we should be proud, because we were part of the final weekend. But when you lose two matches in the final round of a tournament, it is not happy. Then you're sad. But in principle, it is true. We can be proud of us. It is hard to say something about the future. Let's see if we get a chance again.

Jan Pytlick, coach Denmark: We are really satisfied today. I think my team made a very good game, even if we had some problems with our defence in the last ten minutes of the first half. In the second half maybe we played our best handball in this tournament. This medal is very important also for the clubs, the federation and the fans in Denmark. It is quite a long time ago that we were as successful as now.

Cecilie Greve, player Denmark: I am happy. We played a very, very good second half.

Pemille Holst Holmsgaard (player Denmark): We are so proud. It was a hard way we had to go from the first to the last minute. But we never lost our spirit and finally this was the key for our success. I’m so happy. Handball is a sport with a lot of success and history in Denmark, now we are a little part of it.
Maria Fisker (Denmark): The day after tomorrow is Christmas day. But I have received my gift already today. This bronze medal is wonderful. During the break we were not confused. We sat together and our motto for the second half was: Let’s have fun! So we changed the result. But I have to congratulate Poland. The team played on a very high level. Now we will have a look for the next steps. Our main goal is the title in two years, when Demark will be the host of the Women’s World Championship.