Women’s Olympic Qualifying: some clarity already

Mouna Chebbah, here in Viborg colors, today starred against Denmark

Well, in my focus yesterday on Tunisia and Japan, and on the hope for surprises, I gave short shrift to the Dutch women. They have proud traditions, through a strong and exciting team roughly in the period 1995-2005. Their best result was a fifth place in the 2005 World Championships. But if this new generation of Dutch players were to gain a place in London, as now seems realistic, then it would be the first appearance in the Olympics for Dutch handball. Today they played an even game against Croatia for 40 minutes and then seized control. They had a three-goal lead but the final margin was 29-28. A win against Argentina on Sunday should be enough, unless the Croatian team surprises against Spain.

France made the task difficult for themselves against Romania by playing in a less than concentrated way. They were saved by their goalkeeper and by the fact that the Romanians were making even more mistakes at times. So it may come down to a thriller tomorrow between Romania and Montenegro, although the Montenegrins were almost caught by surprise in the opening game against Japan. The Japanese women showed no respect and even had the lead for a brief moment in the second half. But in the end Montenegro managed to pull away and win 30-24.

Russia had no problems with an inexperienced team from the Dominican Republic, but they may have to show more determination against the surprisingly strong Tunisians. I had commented about their progress, but nobody, especially not the Danish team and their supporters had expected such a tough fight. And the special twist was that the star for the Tunisian team was Mouna Chebbah, who plays for the Danish club Viborg, although normally in a more modest role. Tunisia had 13-12 at half-time and were only two goals behind close to the end, before the final result was set at 28-24 in favor of Denmark.