Group C: Tunisia keep main round dream alive
15 Jan. 2019
Tunisia celebrated their second victory at the 26th IHF Men’s World Championship following a solid performance against Saudi Arabia, that saw a four-goal result in their favour at the final whistle. The hard-earned victory took Tunisia to four points on the table, while Saudi Arabia remain on zero and have no chance to progress to the main round.
Saudi Arabia vs Tunisia 20:24 (8:12)
Tunisia earned a win at the buzzer, but it was not an easy one for the African champions. The team appeared a little low on energy following their first victory on Monday against Chile. The back court lacked some of its usual power, which was not a great surprise considering the absence of injured Wael Jallouz, who has not been part of the starting line-up but has meant coach Antonio Gerona Salaet had two strong options at left back.
Without Jallouz, there was some more pressure on the other back court players. The back court was the biggest weapon for Tunisia against Chile, but versus Saudi Arabia, they looked to the wings to finish their attacks. Left wing Oussama Boughanmi took most of the responsibility in the first half, scoring five of his team’s goals when the score stood level at 6:6 in the 19th minute and tallying seven at the end of the half.
The only other Tunisian to score more than one goal in the opening 30 minutes was Mosbah Sanai. He had two at the break and in the second half took Boughanmi’s role, scoring three of the four Tunisian goals that took them to a 16:11 lead by the 40th minute. Sanai counted seven goals to his name when he received a direct red card in the 48th, 14:19.
A dangerous period for Tunisia followed. Within two minutes, Saudi Arabia scored three goals and closed the gap to 17:19, prompting Tunisia coach Salaet to call a time-out. His side managed to hold on, largely thanks to the saves of Makrem Missaoui, who received the hummel player of the match ward. He was the third star of the day for his side, in a game that was almost clearly divided into sections where the three players took turns leading Tunisia to the win.
For Saudi Arabia’s part, it was a solid match. The key difference was the first half, as the partial in the second 30 minutes was 12:12. They were led by Ahmad Alabdulali, with five goals, while keeper Mohammad Alsalem also proved his value once again with some outstanding saves.
Statements after the match:
Boris Denic, coach Saudi Arabia: First of all, I would like to thank Tunisia for a fair and good match. We are satisfied with our defence throughout the match, but in the end, Tunisia had more quality and they deserved the victory. Good luck to Tunisia.
Antonio Gerona Salaet, coach Tunisia: We are happy for our victory today. I think it changed the match, when we changed our defence to 5-1. We have to improve our attack for the next match against Austria. But first we need some rest.
Amro Mohammed, player Saudi Arabia: I think we played a good match today, but Tunisia had the best keeper and he made the difference. We are now looking forward to the next match against Chile. New game, new story.
Makrem Missaoui, player Tunisia: First I would like to say good luck to Saudi Arabia in the next match. I am very proud of my title as the best player of the match, but our defence had a lot of quality today and gave me good options. Now we will look forward and we hope that we can make it in to the next round.