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Date: 12/22/2013

When exactly at 19:19 hrs. local time “We are the champions” sounded for them in Belgrade, the Brazilian players danced samba on the winner’s podium, which even seemed to be too small for their activities. For the second time ever a non-European women’s handball team have become Women’s World Champions after Korea in 1995. And they did not only beat their 16 opponent’s players, but also the world record crowd of 19.467 fans, supporting their Serbian team.

Brazil had been the only non-European team from the quarter-finals on, but the team of Danish born head coach Morten Soubak made it all the way by nine victories in nine matches.

Two times – at the 2011 World Champiponship and the 2012 Olympic Games they had been eliminated highly unlucky in the quarter-finals, now they have even more than they had hoped for in Serbia: Gold!

On the other hand the Serbian players kept their heads up high after losing the trilling final by 20:22. “We are delighted despite losing the final and feeling a bit of pain for not winning the gold medal. Brazil were a tiny notch better than us and deserved to be crowned World Champions”, said All Star Team member Sanja Damnjanovic.

Boosted by the fans, Serbia had started a brilliant catch-up chase in the finals after they were down by 11:16. Five minutes before the end they equalized at 19:19, but in a thrilling endgame they missed the two decisive shots after the 20:20, while the cold as ice Pan-American champions netted in twice to be awarded later by IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa with the World Champion’s trophy.

The whole event was imprinted by surprises and sensations like the early eliminations of World and Olympic champions Norway or European champions Montenegro. Additionally three times the world record for attendance at women’s handball matches had been broken: 15.923 fans had attended the quarter-final Serbia vs. Norway, 18.236 spectators were at the semi-final Serbia vs. Poland and the final set a new sign by a sold-out Kombank-Arena (19.200 spectators, including the whole Serbian government as guests of honour).

Before this great final, Denmark had ended their medal curse. After a 16 year long wait without any silver ware at World Championships the team of head coach Jan Pytlick had taken bronze after beating Poland by 30:26 after being below 12:15 at the break. While the Poles, who made their best ever result at World Championships, were running out of power after minute 40 and a 20:17, the Danes speeded up, lead by Kristina Kristiansen, who scored eight of her ten goals after the break.

The conclusion of IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa was a clear statement: “This World Championship has been a great success for handball.”  And Velimir Marjanovic, President of the Serbian handball Federation added: “The results of this tournament are amazing, especially on the final weekend. Apart from the fact that handball is very popular in the usual countries this will help us to make our sport popular also in Brazil or Poland. This World Championship was great success. The idea of handball is the entire world. And that is what happened here.”

Both semi-finals before had been unexpectedly one-sided, Brazil had beaten Denmark by 27:21 (14:10) thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Barbara Arenhart, while Serbia – boosted by 18.236 spectators had overran Poland. The Serbs were backed by their again brilliant trio Katarina Tomasevic, Dragana Cvijic and Andrea Lekic. Poland had missed 22 shots in the first half and were intermediately down by 11 goals.

But the Poles had been the biggest surprise of the World Championship, mainly after eliminating 2009 and 2011 World Championship silver-medallists France in the quarter-finals. The French had not been the only favourite to be eliminated in the round of the last eight teams. The even bigger sensation was the 28:25 of the Serbs against defending World and Olympic champions Norway – which meant that the Norwegians missed their first ever semi-final of a major competition since 2005. “It was an incredible atmosphere and Serbia were as brilliant as their spectators,” said Norwegian coach Thorir Hergeirsson on the attendance of 15.923 fans in Belgrade.

Denmark had thrown out another surprise team, Germany, in the quarter-finals. Like Norway, France and Brazil, the Germans had been unbeaten group winners before. But the first Danish strike in the knock-out was even more impressive, as they sent home one of the biggest tournament favourites, European champions Montenegro. Brazil were already the only non-European team in the quarter-finals, after Korea, Japan and Angola were clashed by their European opponents in the eighth-finals. Additionally Olympic bronze medallist Spain (against Hungary) and Romania (beaten by Poland) left Serbia much earlier than expected after their respective first knock-out matches.

The group phase had ended without major surprise except the close defeat of Montenegro against France and the Serbian win over Denmark. And after the medal ceremony Serbs and Danes  - the presidents of the federations Per Bertelsen and Velimir Marjanovic - met again for the hand-over of the official IHF flag to the 2015 host of the Women’s World Championship.

All Star Team:

Goalkeeper: Barbara Arenhart (Brazil)
Left wing: Maria Fisker (Denmark)
Left back: Sanja Damnjanovic (Serbia)
Centre back: Anita Görbicz (Hungary)
Right back: Susann Müller (Germany)
Right wing: Sun Hee Woo (Korea)
Pivot: Dragana Cvijic (Serbia)
Most Valuable Player: Eduarda Amorim (Brazil)

Top scorer: Susann Müller (Germany/62 goals)

Final ranking:

Gold: Brazil

Silver: Serbia

Bronze: Denmark

4. POL

5. NOR

6. FRA

7. GER

8. HUN

9. ESP

10. ROU

11. MNE

12. KOR

13. NED

14. JPN

15. CZE

16. ANG

17. TUN

18. CHN

19. ARG

20. COD

21. PAR

22. ALG

23. DOM

24. AUS