2007 Women’s World Championship: Comparing the Continents

This year’s World Championships had its fair share of surprises from the upstart nations outside of Europe. Here’s some analysis and numbers to back up just how each of the continents performed and where they stand relative to Europe and each other.


Europe’s record vs. the Rest of the World: 31-1-10
Average Match Final Score: 31.5 – 25.0
Average Match Goal Differential: +6.5

Europe is still the top continent for sure, but the Women are not near as dominating as their male counterparts who were 28-1-1. http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.266 And, if you compare Europe’s record vs. the world for the last 3 championships a definite trend downward is occurring.

2003: 34-0-5 (87.1 win percentage)
2005: 32-0-7 (82.1 win percentage)
2007: 31-1-10 (73.8 win percentage)

In 2003, only South Korean could manage a victory against the Europeans. In 2005, Brazil joined South Korea in passing through to the main round and a raw, but athletically gifted Angola beat Slovenia and kept their other games close against the European powers. In 2007, the trend continued with 4 teams (South Korea, Angola, Brazil and Tunisia) beating European sides. Even more revealing was that the average margin of victory was only 6.5 goals. And if you were to throw out the two teams that were most overmatched, Australia and Paraguay, the number drops even further. Several teams managed to scare the Europeans and those easy games in preliminary play where teams traditionally rested are becoming fewer and fewer. All this being said, though, a 73.8 win percentage is still pretty high and the 12 European sides all finished 16th place or better.


Record vs. Europe: 6-0-9
Average Match Final Score: 28.3 – 30.7
Average Match Goal Differential: -2.4

Record vs. Rest of the World (non-Europe): 4-0-1
Average Match Final Score: 32.6 – 28.4
Average Match Goal Differential: 4.2

Thanks largely to Angola’s 6-4 overall record and 5-3 record against Europe, Africa had the second best overall continental performance. And with the exception of their 27-40 loss against the eventual champions Russia, Angola was competitive in all of its matches. Even more compelling is the upward trajectory of Angolan performance from the past 3 tournaments

2003: 1-4
2005: 2-3
2007: 6-4

In 2003, Angola likely left the tournament with the realization that the European teams were better, but not that much better. In 2005 they narrowed the gap further, beating a European team (Slovenia), but they just couldn’t close the deal in their other matches. In 2007, however, they came battle tested and ready to do the little things that make the difference between winning and losing tight matches at the highest level. For those who sometime question the point of having weaker nations play mismatches against the European powers, one should consider just what Angola has accomplished. Only 5 years ago they were struggling to rebuild their nation after a 27 year civil war. According to the UN (from this New York Times article in 2003 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?es=9C02EEDF173EF933A05754C0A9659C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1), “80 percent of people have no access to basic medical care. More than two-thirds have no running water. A whole generation of children has never opened a schoolbook. Life expectancy is less than 40 years. Three in ten children will die before reaching their fifth birthday.”

Now five years later they are the 7th best team in the World. But it wasn’t just the Angolans that proved their worth. Congo was competitive in several games and Tunisia knocked off Austria. And in match-ups against non European teams, Africa had a 4-0-1 record with the only loss being Angola’s loss to South Korea. Time will tell whether this is the high water mark for Africa Handball or whether its just the start of a trend to bigger and better things.


Record vs. Europe: 3-0-12
Average Match Final Score: 26.4 – 30.4
Average Match Goal Differential: -4

Record vs. Rest of the World (non-Europe) 7-0-4
Average Match Final Score: 31.1 -22.7
Average Match Goal Differential: +8.4

As usual, South Korea carried the flag for Asia with 3 victories over European teams and a 6th place overall finish. China and Japan kept their games vs. the Europeans respectable while Kazakhstan suffered double digit losses to Croatia and France. When it came to matches against non-European sides, Asia had a mixed record. Three of their 7 victories came at Paraguay’s expense and in 3 head to head match ups between the 2nd tier nations of Africa and Asia (Congo-Kazakhstan; Congo-Japan; Tunisia-China) they lost all 3. So Asia can look upon 2007 as some progress, but they also have to recognize that Africa is now the number 2 continent.

[b]Pan America[/b]

Record vs. Europe: 1-1-8
Average Match Final Score: 20.9 – 33.4
Average Match Goal Differential: -12.5

Record vs. Rest of the World (non- Europe): 4-0-4
Average Match Final Score: 21.4 – 25.6
Average Match Goal Differential: -4.2

In 2005 Brazil was the surprise team of the tournament with wins over Austria, Poland and France as they advanced to the Main Round for the first time and finished 8th overall. This time they were a mild disappointment as their Preliminary Round loss to Macedonia sent them to the President’s Cup and an eventual 14th place finish. The biggest consolation they can take is their Preliminary Round draw against the eventual Russian champions which showed that they can still play with the big dogs. Next time around they are sure to remember the Macedonia loss and the fact that one slip up can cost you.

Outside of Brazil, Pan-American performance was dismal, with almost all of Argentina, Dominican Republic and Paraguay defeats being lopsided double digit losses. In fact, the only non-Brazilian victories coming at the expense of Australia.


Record vs. Europe: 0-0-2
Average Match Final Score: 10 – 35
Average Match Goal Differential: -25

Record vs. Rest of the World (Non-Europe): 0-0-4
Average Match Final Score: 11.5 – 27.3
Average Match Goal Differential: -15.8

It might not seem plausible to find any silver lining in the Aussies 0-0-6 record and 24th place, but in comparison to their 2005 performance they’ve made quantifiable progress. In St Petersburg, Australia were also winless in five outings, but their opponents averaged 47.2 goals and were beaten by an average of 36.4 goals. This time around, team Australia held their opponents to a more modest 29.8 goals/game and their average margin of defeat was 18.8 goals. Big numbers for sure, but no one was able to paste a 57-7 drubbing on them like Hungary did two years ago. And for a memorable 25 minutes they held their own against Macedonia in arguably the biggest “you gotta be kidding me” moment of the tournament. Continued improvement could be a challenge, but if several players find their way to competitive European leagues it’s conceivable. Who knows? Maybe they could knock off an overconfident Angolan team four years from now.

Match Scores grouped by Continents are in the Extended Post

[b]Africa vs. Europe[/b]
Angola 33, Austria 22
Angola 26, Norway 32
Angola 29, France 27
Angola 34, Croatia 28
Angola 33, Macedonia 25
Angola 27, Russia 40
Angola 33, Germany 36
Angola 37, Hungary 36
Congo 20, Hungary 33
Congo 24, Spain 29
Congo 28, Ukraine 31
Tunisia 30, Austria 23
Tunisia 23, Poland 29
Tunisia 21, Romania 39
Tunisia 26, Ukraine 31

[b]Africa vs. Rest of World [/b]
Angola 41, Dominican Republic 20
Angola 33, South Korea 41
Congo 27, Kazakhstan 26
Congo 32, Japan 28
Tunisia 30, China 27

[b]Asia vs. Europe[/b]
China 20, Poland 27
China 29, Romania 31
Japan 31, Hungary 35
Japan 29, Spain 36
Kazakhstan 20, Austria 25
Kazakhstan 25, Croatia 35
Kazakhstan 20, France 31
South Korea 25, France 26
South Korea 31, Hungary 26
South Korea 24, Norway 35
South Korea 37, Poland 33
South Korea 27, Romania 31
South Korea 26, Spain 28
South Korea 26, Germany 32
South Korea 26, Ukraine 25

[b]Asia vs. Rest of World[/b]
China 27, Tunisia 30
China 35, Dominican Republic 16
China 23, Paraguay 14
Japan 28, Congo 32
Japan 31, Argentina 20
Japan 36, Paraguay 8
Kazakhstan 26, Argentina 22
Kazakhstan 19, Brazil 36
Kazakhstan 26, Congo 27
South Korea 41, Angola 33
South Korea 50, Paraguay 12

[b]Pan-America vs. Europe[/b]
Brazil 38, Austria 19
Dominican Republic 19, Austria 32
Argentina 18, Croatia 35
Argentina 12, France 37
Paraguay 12, Germany 45
Brazil 22, Macedonia 26
Dominican Republic 19, Norway 42
Brazil 31, Russia 31
Brazil 21, Ukraine 24
Paraguay 17, Ukraine 43

[b]Pan-America vs. Rest of World[/b]
Dominican Republic 20, Angola 41
Argentina 31, Australia 9
Brazil 36, Australia 9
Dominican Republic 26, Australia 14
Paraguay 16, Australia 14
Dominican Republic 16, China 35
Paraguay 14, China 23
Argentina 20, Japan 31
Paraguay 8, Japan 36
Argentina 22, Kazakhstan 26
Brazil 36, Kazakhstan 19
Paraguay 12, South Korea 50

[b]Oceania vs. Europe[/b]
Australia 13, Macedonia 30
Australia 7, Russia 40

[b]Oceania vs. Rest of World[/b]
Australia 9, Argentina 31
Australia 9, Brazil 36
Australia 14, Dominican Republic 26
Australia 14, Paraguay 16

One thought on “2007 Women’s World Championship: Comparing the Continents

  1. I read this on handball-world.com. I think it's an article only you can write. Quite impressive to compare each continents from the 2003 tournament till the latest one.

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