Olympic champs Denmark set sights on handball world title

Denmark, Spain and Croatia all won their second pool matches at the World Handball Championships on Saturday while Poland, bronze medallists last time out, suffered a damaging 28-24 defeat to Brazil.

Olympic champs Denmark set sights on handball world title
Denmark's star player Mikkel Hansen. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix
Olympic champions Denmark romped past Egypt 35-28 in Group D after the Africans had started their tournament brightly beating Qatar on Friday.
Casper Mortensen and Lasse Svan Hansen scored five and six times respectively in the first-half giving the Danes a 21-15 lead by the break and 12 of their 14 outfield players had scored by full time.
“For us, it was a great game. We won with a lot of goals, but it was a hard match. Egypt played very well and played a very hard defence also,” said Denmark coach Morten Olsen.
Denmark will face its neighbour and longtime rival Sweden on Monday night. 
“Against Sweden, it will be a special game. It's always special against Sweden, we also want to be the best in Scandinavia, so we will try […] to win against them.”
Spain and Croatia both had a tighter time of it.
The Iberians were leading Tunisia by just two points with ten minutes to go in their Group B game but thanks to David Balaguer's three late goals they eventually prevailed 26-21.
The Spaniards now have four points and are level with Slovenia, who edged Iceland 26-25.
“In the second half, we had to stay concentrated as Tunisia never gave up. Our goalkeeper stopped many shots and we could then go a lot on the counter-attack,” said Spain's Valero Rivera.
Hungary were missing their star player Laszlo Nagy with an ankle injury but still ran Croatia close over the first 45 minutes before a late flurry gave the Croats a 31-28 win, leaving them sole leaders of Group C ahead of Chile and Germany.
In Group A, defending champions France made it three wins in three when a 31-28 triumph over Norway edged them closer to the quarter-finals of the world handball championships on Sunday.
Having already seen off Brazil 31-16 and Japan 31-19, man of the match Nikola Karabatic and Kentin Mahe hit five goals each for France while Magnus Jondal scored six for Norway.
“Nikola (Karabatic) scored some important goals. This is more than just about one man, though, all the guys played well. I'd say that we passed our first test,” said France winger Michael Guigou.
 Karabatic added: “This was almost a little final in the group given that they had beaten Russia and Poland. Now we must keep going like this.”
In the other Group A match on Sunday, Brazil downed Japan 27-24.
In Group C, European champions Germany crushed Chile 35-14 with star player Uwe Gensheimer hitting four penalties and Rune Dahmke scoring seven goals from 11 shots.
In Pool B, Iceland and Tunisia drew 22-22. Amine Bannour hist 12 from 20 for the north Africans.
Qatar, the world runners-up to France on home court in 2015, defeated Gulf neighbours Bahrain 32-22 while Sweden claimed a second win of the week, beating Argentina 35-17.

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Norway backs out of co-hosting Euro handball champs with Denmark over Covid

Norway has pulled out of co-hosting the women's European handball championship just two weeks before the start in December due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic, its federation said on Monday.

Norway backs out of co-hosting Euro handball champs with Denmark over Covid
Denmark playing against Norway at last year's handball world cup in Japan. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

“Based on in-depth assessments by Norwegian health authorities as well as clear demands from Norwegian political authorities, it is now clear that Norway cannot be an organiser of the women's European handball championship,” the federation said.

Denmark is now considering whether to host the event on its own.

Strict restrictions are however currently in place in the North Jutland region, where some of the matches were due to be played, after a mutated version of the virus was found in the country's mink population, infecting 12 people.

The European Handball Federation “very much regrets the decision of the Norwegian government”, it said in a statement, referring to the Norwegian health authorities' refusal to grant exemptions to the strict measures it has imposed.

Under current rules, if a player or team official tests positive for the virus the entire team must quarantine, as well as the teams that it has opposed just prior.

The rules are less strict in Denmark.

“Alternatives are being sought with the Danish Handball Association and additional information will be released on Tuesday at the latest,” the European Handball Federation said.

Norway had been due to host around 60 percent of matches, including the final, in Trondheim.

While Norway has been one of the countries in Europe least affected by the pandemic, it has seen a recent uptick in cases which has led authorities to introduce a series of measures, notably on cultural and sporting events.

READ ALSO: Extra coronavirus restrictions 'halve travel' inside Danish region