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2019 Men’s World Championship 2019 Men’s World Championship
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Date: 12/2/2017

Slovenia caused an upset against Olympic silver medallists France in a real thriller on the opening day of Group A in Trier and the favoured sides of Romania (against Paraguay) and Spain (against Angola) won their intercontinental opening encounters.


Romania vs Paraguay 29:17 (16:7)


In front of 2369 spectators – including more than 400 Romanians – the 2015 World Championship bronze medallists claimed the expected win. Despite the clear result, Romania’s Spanish-born coach Ambros Martin was impressed by Paraguay: “It was difficult to control this fast opponent. They played similar to Spain, finally we fulfilled the expectation.”


In minute 19 at the latest, the deal was sealed already for Romania as the lead already by 10:3. “We were astonished by the tallness of them”, said Lillian Sanabria, assistant coach of the South Americans. One of their smallest players, Sabrina Fiore, was the top scorer with seven goals, while Florina-Cristina Florianu topped Romania’s scorer list with five strikes.


After the 16:7 half-time lead, Romania impressed the spectators with some spectacular goals and the first double-figure lead at 20:10 in minute 37. In the end, they defeated the South American team by 12 goals. “Despite the defeat we enjoyed the great atmosphere in the full arena,” said Paraguay goalkeeper Araceli Yaryes.


France vs Slovenia 23:24 (10:13)


What a brilliant comeback from Slovenia after their twelve-year absence on the Women’s World Championship stage: thanks to 15 saves of goalkeeper Amra Pandzic and nine goals of Ana Gros, the team of head coach Uros Bregar caused one of the first major surprises at Germany 2017, beating the Olympic silver medallists in a true thriller.


Slovenia were ahead throughout the whole match after a surprising 6:1 lead in the beginning. France had enormous problems in attack and scored only four goals in the first 20 minutes. “We played under par and our goalkeeper performance was much weaker than the Slovenian one. We definitely need to play better in the next matches,” said French coach Olivier Krumbholz.


Bregar, who explained that “Krumbholz was my role model when I started to become a coach”, was highly satisfied: “This is a really surprise.” France reduced the gap goal by goal after the break and were close to turn the match around at 15:16, but Slovenia could keep the lead, mainly thanks to Pandzic’s saves.


14 minutes before the end, when Tjasa Stanko netted in for the 22:18, Slovenia seemed to be on the winners’ way already, but France did not give up – however, the 23:24 three minutes before the end turned out to be the final result, as both sides missed all their remaining chances – including a final direct free-throw by French Alexandra Lacrabere, blocked by Slovenia.


“This match will boost our confidence, we are looking forward to our upcoming tasks,” said Gros, who plays for the French club Metz and faced several French teammates.


Spain vs Angola 28:24 (15:13)


“It was really tough to play against this powerful Angolan team, so we are really happy to have a successful start”, said Spanish right wing Carmen Martin, who scored nine goals from eleven attempts and was awarded best player of the match. Indeed, the African champions were on an equal level for 35 minutes. The rejuvenated Spanish team had to fight hard for every chance and could not cast off the Angolans. After an intermediate 15:10 lead, Spain lost their pace for some minutes, thus Angola managed to reduce the gap to one goal 16:17.


“Then the turning point of the match occurred,” said Danish-born Angola coach Morten Soubak: “Spain scored three goals in a row, and we could not manage to get on an equal level anymore. Their victory was fully deserved.” In his team, Magda Cazanga was the top scorer with seven goals. The Angola right back keeps the head up high: “We can play better and we will improve.” Four minutes before the end, Martin’s final strike brought the decision. Spanish 2013 Men’s World Champion Gedeon Guardiola (player of German side Rhein-Neckar Löwen) could be found among the 3042 spectators, as he celebrated the victory with his country-fellows.