The Icelandic national team in men’s handball dropped out of the World Championship in Spain after losing against the standing world champion, France, 30-28, in an exciting game in Barcelona yesterday evening, Iceland’s first game in the 16-team playoffs.
Iceland was praised by commentators for having played excellent defense and reasonable offense and the game was fairly even throughout. At times, France led by three to four goals but Iceland made sure to stay close behind, level the score and give France a run for their money. However, France was quick to punish Iceland for clumsy mistakes, visir.is reports.
“It was a devastating loss given that we fought like heroes the entire game. The boys deserve compliment for playing so well against France’s strong team,” commented Iceland’s coach Aron Kristjánsson.
Þórir Ólafsson scored the most goals for Iceland, seven, five of which were penalty throws, and Aron Pálmarsson, who was considered Iceland’s best player of the game, followed with six. Samuel Honrubia scored eight goals for France.
“We clung to them and it was an even and exciting game,” added captain Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson. “Then we lost hold of them early in the second half, struck back but lost hold of them again towards the end.”
“We would have had to get a lead of two to three goals to make them a bit nervous,” he went on. “We must take the positive aspects of the championship with us but of course it’s disappointing that it’s over. A bummer to end it this way. We thought we deserved more [yesterday].”
France has now moved on to the eight-team playoffs. “I have belief in Denmark but France will definitely gain strength in the coming games,” Guðjón predicted.
Iceland had hoped not to have to play France in the 16-team playoffs and thought that winning against Qatar on Friday, 39-29, while Denmark beat Macedonia would have secured them a different opponent.
However, France unexpectedly lost against Germany, which is why Iceland and France met in yesterday’s game.
Click here to read more about Iceland’s performance at the championship.