The Canadian Men’s team started the Men’s Pan American Handball Championship with two disappointing losses: A very lopsided 42-13 loss vs Brazil and a narrow 26-24 loss to Uruguay. But since that poor start they’ve secured victories over Colombia and Paraguay and now are in position to qualify for the semifinals.
Yes, a victory tonight over Greenland will put Canada into a 3 way tie with Greenland and Uruguay at 6 points each. And, then the next tiebreaker is head to head goal differential with Uruguay locked in at 0 GD, Greenland at +2 and Canada at -2. The simple math means that a 3 goal victory would put Canada through to the semifinal. A 1 goal victory will put Greenland through and a 2 goal victory, would put all 3 teams level on GD, meaning goals scored head to head is the next tiebreaker. The math there will also qualify Greenland if they score 26 or more goals. 25 or less will qualify Uruguay. (Side note: all of this assumes that Brazil beats Uruguay; arguably a pretty safe assumption.)
Shades of 2004?
Fourteen years ago at the 2004 Men’s Pan American Championships in Santiago, Chile, Canada took 3rd place and qualified for the 2005 Men’s World Championships. To do so, Canada pulled off arguably the biggest win in the history of their program, a 31-24 defeat of hosts Chile in the bronze medal game. Yes, with a World Championship berth on the line Canada dominated Chile at home to qualify.
A key player on the Canadian team roster back then was current Men’s Head Coach, Alexis Bertrand. Can he lead the Canadian men to pull off a similar victory in front of roughly 2,000 Greenland fans? Well, the odds are against them.
Greenland’s clearly a better team. This is evidenced by the score lines of all the matches they’ve played. Last night they even played Brazil close for the first 10 minutes until things started to unravel. Still they only lost by 10 goals, while Canada lost by 29. They’ve got several players on their roster that have played semi-pro or professionally in Denmark. Minik Dahl Hoegh and Akutaaneq Kreutzmann have been playing in Denmark’s top league for several years and have been on Pan American Championships All Star teams. Hoegh and to a lesser extent Kreutzmann cause some serious match up problems for a smallish Canadian side.
If Canada can contain Greenland’s big scorers, and force the rest of Greenland’s team to score; if they can get some fast break opportunities; if they can hit their shots; and if they get a strong performance in goal; and if they can keep it close… Could then the tremendous pressure of playing in front of a packed house with everything on the line cause the home team to make mistakes in the final minutes?
Lots of ifs there, but these are the kinds of matches players and coaches dream of. It’s why you play the game.
The game is at 8:00 PM Greenland time or 6:00 PM Eastern Time (U.S./Canada) and can be seen live on KNR website: Link
Standings and results: Link