Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament: Final Results

[b]Tunisia scares Spain; Iceland again denies Sweden[/b]

[b]Spain 29 – Tunisia 28[/b]
Spain lead most of the game, but could never put Tunisia out of striking distance. With Iker Romero scoring to make the score 25-22 with 13 minutes left to play it appeared that perhaps Spain had given themselves some breathing space. Tunisia then behind some strong goalie play, however went on a 5-1 run to take a 27-26 lead with four minutes to play. Spain, then took control behind some big stops by Hombrados in goal to squeak out a 29-28 victory.

[b]Iceland 29 – Sweden 25[/b]
Iceland and Sweden battled to a 13-13 tie at halftime, but Iceland controlled the 2nd half through smart and determined play by veterans Stefansson and Sigurdsson, who had 6 and 5 goals, respectively. A dejected Swedish side could only sit in frustration on the sidelines as Iceland once again denied them the opportunity to play on the World Stage. (Iceland also knocked out Sweden during 2007 World Championship qualification)

[b]Poland 28 – Argentina 26[/b]
Hats off to Argentina for making host Poland sweat a little during this match. The score was 13-11 at halftime, but Poland took control in the 2nd half leading by as many as 7 goals. Argentina only closed the gap at the end of the match after the outcome was settled. Still this was not a throw away game for Poland as a loss would have resulted in a 3rd place finish for the home side as Sweden would have taken 2nd on Goal Differential. Although the outcome was never in question, the Poles undoubtedly would have preferred (and were probably expecting) to cruise to a 10 goal victory.

The 12 Nations Participating in the Olympics are

Germany (World Champion)
China (Host)
Denmark (European Champion)
Egypt (African Champion)
Brazil (Pan American Champion)
South Korea (Asian Champion)

Poland, Iceland, France, Spain, Croatia and Russia (Olympic Qualifying Tournaments)

[b]Commentary on the Seeding Format: [/b] As I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions the IHF, really needs to review the seeding for these tournaments. As the results in Zadar clearly show, placing 4th or 5th resulted in a lot better draw than finishing 2nd or 3rd. Poland and France both had tough matches, while there never was any doubt that Croatia and Russia would advance. It would make much more sense to tier the teams into four pots rather than automatically assigning them to tournaments.