20210713 Women's 19 EHF Championship Belarus Yana Sotnikava
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Belarus book semi-final place

Jamie Whittington

Belarus earned their second one-goal victory in group A of the Women’s 19 EHF Championship in North Macedonia to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.

Despite trailing 11:8 in the 31st minute against Poland, Belarus repeated their comeback heroics from their first group A match against Iceland and held their nerve in the final minutes to record a 27:26 win that confirmed their place in the last four.

In group B – which consists of five teams – three teams remain unbeaten after playing two matches: hosts North Macedonia, the Faroe Islands and the Netherlands.

However, the Netherlands have four points after their comprehensive victories against Kosovo (53:14) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (39:25), while North Macedonia and the Faroe Islands both sit on three points after their 24:24 draw on Monday.

  • across both groups, 10 of the 16 preliminary round matches have been completed
  • while Belarus are through to the semi-finals, the second semi-finalist from group A will be decided on Thursday when Poland face Iceland
  • the Netherlands are top of group B but will face North Macedonia on Wednesday and the Faroe Islands on Thursday
  • Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina are both out of semi-final contention

Belarus display tenacious qualities 

With six different players scoring their last six goals of the match against Poland, Belarus used their squad depth effectively in a nail-biting match to prevail by a single goal. Whilst Finland's Maja Sannholm (15 goals) is currently the highest scorer from the teams in group A, Anastasiya Sivukha is Belarus's top scorer with 10 goals. However, the contrast in fortunes between Belarus and Finland could not be clearer ahead of their meeting on Thursday: Belarus have qualified for the semi-finals, but Finland cannot reach the last four after suffering two defeats from two matches.

Dutch dominance in attack

When the Netherlands played in the preliminary round of the W17 EHF EURO 2019, they scored 86 goals in three matches. In just two matches in North Macedonia, the Dutch team has already scored 92 goals. From the 18 players who have scored 10 goals or more in the competition so far, four of them play for the Netherlands: Romé Steverink, Catharina Molenaar, Jalisha Loy and Rianne Van Rijnsoever. 

I have only one thing to say: active defence is the best idea in handball.
Sergei Barkin
Belarus coach

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