Tuesday, February 01, 2005

World Championships 2005 News and Notes

Biggest Surprise: Tie- Greece and Tunisia: Greece’s upset of France and Tunisia’s upset of Denmark were huge surprises. I missed the broadcast of the Greek upset, but saw Tunisia’s defeat of Denmark as well as their draw versus France. The atmosphere for the Denmark match in particular was sensational, as the home town crowd clearly was a factor in the emotional play of the Tunisians. For a 15 minute stretch in the 2nd half their Goalie stopped everything and Hmam Wissem (look for him to play in Germany or Spain soon) nailed some 10 meter standing start jump shots.

Biggest Disappointment: Denmark. One of the 3 favorites is catching an early flight home. Here they were cruising along with 3 straight victories, probably not overlooking Tunisia, but thinking that they would be able to beat them. 48 hours later they are on the plane heading home like the Canadians and Angolans. I hope they bought non-restricted tickets.
PANAM Report: Disappointing overall. Argentina and Brazil both managed a victory a piece and at times played the Europeans close. I saw Argentina against Sweden and they hung around for awhile. They have a good team, they just need a couple more players to be truly competitive. Their big scorer, Gull, was marked most of the game and that seemed to put them out of synch. Losing to Japan, was also a disappointment for them. If they had won that match, they would have played Spain with an opportunity to make the main round. As for the Canadians, their match against France was not pretty. They are probably pretty happy, though, to almost beat Angola.

Africa Rising: Maybe, we need to get the World Championships in the Americas. The African Nations, did pretty well on home turf as Egypt almost joined Tunisia in the main round. If Tunisia can finish in at least 9th place, Africa will take one of allotted performance positions for the next Championships. This means 4 teams as opposed to 3 will qualify from Africa.

Advertising: Unlike most American sports, advertising is often on the playing surfaces and player uniforms. While we are seeing more of this in the USA, I strongly doubt that we will ever see an advertisement for BetandWin.com prominently displayed on the center circle and on player uniforms. I must say it is very progressive for Handball to recognize the natural symbiotic relationship between sports and betting, but I doubt that NBA Commissioner Stern would agree.

Dollars and Cents: According to L’Equipe (The French Sports Daily):
France will pay each player 25,000 Euros for a 1st place finish, 20,000 for 2nd, and 17,000 for 3rd place. Each Canadian player had to pay 1,500 Euros to handle travel costs.

Predictions: Order will be returned to the Handball World this week. Russia and France will advance from Group 1 and Croatia and Spain will advance from Group 2.