The last of three spots of Group B in Aalborg was confirmed only with the final buzzer of the last match of the preliminary round.
“I have to congratulate my team for their fighting spirit and for controlling this highly exciting match most of the time. I don’t want to emphasise any of my players, as it was only the team performance today,” Hungary’s coach Lajos Mocsai said.
First we stood strong in defence, but after the break we could not start our counter-attacks. We arrived in Denmark with many problems, so reaching the main round in this tough group is a great success for Hungarian handball,” he added.
As Spain and Iceland had already been confirmed, Hungary will be part of the next stage, while the Norwegian need to book their return flight despite their first point in Aalborg.
“It was a great match with really good handball. Initially we had problems in defending, but in the second half our defence worked well, we played with a lot of counter-attacks and stopped the Hungarian fast-breaks. Unfortunately we did not win,” Norwegian coach Robert Hedin said.
Thanks to the 26:26 (16:13) draw in a highly thrilling match, the Hungarians finished third ranked below Spain (6:0) and Iceland (3:3) with 2 points – and made it to the main round without winning a group match after the defeat against Spain and the tie with Iceland before, while Norway would have needed a victory to pass the Hungarians.
Like Iceland, Hungary will take one point to the main round start. While the Hungarians will face FYR Macedonia in their main round opener on Saturday, Iceland will compete with Austria.
Top match of the first main round day in Herning will be the duel of the group winners Denmark vs. Spain – the rematch of the 2013 world championship final, clearly won by the Iberians 35:19.
written by Björn Pazen / br
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Photo: MTI – Tamás Kovács