The first day of the 2007 IKF World Championships in Brno, Czech Republic, saw some exciting matches that have set the scene for an enthralling tournament.First day – summary The first day of the 2007 IKF World Championships in Brno, Czech Republic, saw some exciting matches that have set the scene for an enthralling tournament.
Chinese Taipei (yellow) vs Russia (blue) is from day 1 and the Russian no 11 is Zoya Yagudaeva
Chinese Taipei and Russia gave korfball fans an ideal start in the first game at the VUT sports hall. Two young and athletic teams, playing with contrasting styles, were both anxious to avoid defeat. In the end, with their greater experience of korfball at this level and more flexible tactical approach, the Asian champions came through 20-16 to stake a claim for favouritism in Group D, which will see more compelling games in the next two days. If the Russian players can find their shooting range, however, they will still be a strong contender in the tournament.
The other games at the VUT sports hall, where Groups A and D will be played out, were more clear cut. Germany overcome the USA by 24-10; the world champion Tulips, from the Netherlands put on a consummate display to put Catalonia away by 29-11; and newcomer China, in their first world championship, learnt a tough lesson at the hands of Portugal, losing 32-7.
Meanwhile at the Vodova Hall, Groups B and C were in progress. First up, in a meeting of two Commonwealth countries, England managed to overcome spirited resistance from India, winning 19-13, but losing one of their top players, David Brooks, to an ankle injury that left him on crutches and ended his tournament.
Matching the score of the Portuguese and Chinese, korfball superpower Belgium launched Group B and their mission to improve on the silver medal they won in 2003. ‘The Diamonds,’ sparkled against South Africa, defeating the African champions by 32-7, and serving a pointed reminder that it will need a superhuman effort for any other team to break into the IKF’s top two, displacing either the Diamonds or the Tulips.
The second match of Group B saw a much closer battle, and a result that defied previous korfball history: Australia was defeated 18-12 by Poland. Australia put on a spirited fightback early in the second half, but in a squad that is missing a number of their top players, they just failed to overturn the lead that Poland had established, and in the final ten minutes of the match the Poles were able to score more freely to win with greater ease than had seemed likely through the preceding 50.
Rounding out the day, host team the Czech Republic fought an almighty battle with their Hungarian neighbours. After looking slightly better composed than their rival in a tight first half, the Czech team lost traction in a low scoring second, and it appeared that underdog Hungary had stolen a win, taking the lead for the first time with four minutes left. Spurred on by their passionate supporters, however, the Czech Republic did just enough to equalise in the final minute, then score the conclusive goal with just 20 seconds left, winning by 14-13.
In summary, then, the day underlined the dominance of European korfball, with the Chinese Taipei defeat of Russia the only exception to European teams overcoming opponents from outside their continent.
Whether that scenario continues remains to be seen. Another eight games will be played out in the two groups, with the Group B game between Poland and South Africa; Group C’s encounter between yesterday’s two winners the Czech Republic and England; and the equivalent Group D stand off between Chinese Taipei and Germany promising to set the pulses of korfball fans racing most rapidly.
Day two of the 2007 Korfball World Championships saw plenty more drama, the tournament’s first golden goal, and four teams confirm that they will contest the top eight placings in the tournament.
Russia completed its first World Championship victory over the inexperienced United States to keep alive its chances of progressing to the top eight of the competition. Russian supremacy was built on the shooting superiority of Sergey Usachev and Sergei Nizovskii. Although the American female players dominated their team’s scoring, the game was never in doubt for the Russians, who prevailed by 19-9 after leading 12-4 at half time.
A similar scenario in today’s second game at the VUT Hall saw Catalonia hold the ascendancy against an improved China, which seemed to have learnt some of the lessons dealt to them the previous day by Portugal. Catalonia turned a 13-6 half time lead into a 23-11 victory, their top scorer, Xavi Blazquez, scoring seven.
The third one sided game of the day at the VUT hall saw the Netherlands unsurprisingly confirm their place in the top eight, making no match of it against Portugal. Despite substituting a whole section at half time, the Netherlands marched relentlessly on, going from a half time lead of 12-5 to a final score of 30-10, top scorer Wim Scholtmeijer bagging six.
TPE – GER
The final game of the day saw today’s first real contest at the VUT hall, but Chinese Taipei, building on their excellent win over Russia yesterday, proved too strong for Germany, drawing away in the first 30 minutes, then maintaining their half time margin of 12-8 to record an eventual victory of 21-16.
RSA – POL
Both looking to progress from Group B, South Africa and Poland fought out an even first 30 minutes, with the Polish team overturning a deficit to edge into a half time lead 12-11. However, the second half was a different story, with the young South Africans growing in stature and confidence and keeping their opponent scoreless for 24 minutes, to earn a 22-15 victory on the back of excellent performances by Werner Basson and Luther Grobler: a result that and put them into pole position for a top eight placing, so long as they can hold Australia at bay tomorrow.
Both teams needed a win to keep their hopes alive, but Hungary was the only serious contender throughout this Group C contest. Going from 11-4 at half time to a 19-7 victory for the Hungarians, who retain their chance to play in the top eight, depending on the result from their final group game against England, while India is confined to compete for the minor places.
Two European korfball nations fought an intriguing Group C game, with defence generally to the fore and structured attacks insufficient to give either side a significant lead throughout the most exciting match of the tournament so far. A 4-3 half time lead to the hosts was overturned by England early in the second half, but neither could pull away and 11-11 at full time required a golden goal to decide the winner. Making best use of their opportunity, and taking a patient approach, Jan Malacka scored for the Czech Republic during their elongated first golden goal. England was unable to match it and in front of an ecstatic crowd the Czech Republic ‘stole’ their second game in two days, winning this 12-11.
England vs Czech Repulic pic is from day 2 and the England no 2 (defending against the Czechs) is Aimee Evans
Another command performance by Belgium against a depleted Australian team completed the second day’s programme at the Vodova Hall. Hitting the target with metronomic regularity, Belgium built a half time lead of 14-2 into a final score of 32-6, confirming, if there was ever any doubt, that the world’s second ranked nation will compete in the top eight.