2019 World Korfball Championships Day Seven Review

With the 2019 World Korfball Championship in Durban coming to its final stage, we have only five games each day. On 7 August it's about determining who will play for which places between nine and sixteen.

Before we go on to review the games, we want to put the spotlight on the main hall speaker of this championship. He has a great voice and adds flavour to the games with his witty comments and interaction with players and spectators. Well done!

Places Nine to Twelve

The day kicks off with the game between Poland and Catalunya to claim a chance for ninth place. "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" applies to this thriller. Polish coach Koopmans seems to have found his best working starting zones and Poland is the dominating squad in this game until about five minutes into the second half. Then Catalunya seems to find its form of the last two games and closes the gap from 11-7 to 11-11 in five minutes. Both squads then take the lead in turn in a thrilling game. Rafal Diadik has another chance to be the hero of Poland as his zone is in the attack in the last seconds of regular time. This time his shot misses and we go to another golden goal extension. This time it's Catalunya that is victorious, scoring after first missing a penalty.

Where the new zones of Poland work out well for Siemieniuk and Musialinski, oddly enough the other zone is very focused on Diadik in this game, where Rubinkowski has pulled Poland through in most games. Now he leaves the pitch with no goals, being mostly in rebound. More variation in that zone may have been useful. On the Catalan side the question is why it takes more than half the game to show the level of performance of the two previous games. In the end the rhythm comes in time to claim victory. Poland still needs to work on its end game, as all games show a weak last period in scoring.

England - Hungary is the second game for a ticket to the ninth place game. Here England starts strong with Palfreyman back in the starting lineup. Before the first ten minutes are up, Hungary turns the score in their favour and is able to get five goals ahead of England with 6-11. By the time the game is halfway, this is reduced to a three goal lead, 8-11.

The second half starts with Vogwill and Palfreyman switching zones for England. They get back level and see their first lead since 4-4. Now it is England's turn to dominate the scoring. With 16-14 for England it looks like Hungary can still get back with six minutes to go. When England goes to 18-14, things start to look dire for Hungary, especially when they miss a penalty at 19-16. Hungarian Substitute Viktor Bellusz puts the 20-18 final score on the board with two last goals.

England again lives mainly off the goals of Vogwill and Brennan, something that Hungary fails to deal with. There is no sign of any special defence on either two. Hungary relies on their fairly strong rebound and easily scoring guys, as all male players contribute to the scoring well. Viktor Bellusz is the top scorer this time, despite being a substitute. Besides failing to deal with England's main scorers, Hungary's second main shooter Kristóf Bellusz lacks accuracy and is less dominant with only two goals this game. It looks like Hungary gets tired as scoring percentage is declining after the strong performance against China.

With these two games over it is determined that Catalunya and England play for ninth place while Poland and Hungary face each other for eleventh place. That last game is a reprise of a crucial game of the 2018 European Championships. That game was won by Hungary, getting them to the top half of the tournament, while Poland had to go to the bottom half. Let's see how Poland deals with that memory.

Places Thirteen to Sixteen

Ireland - Slovakia is next to claim a spot in the game for thirteenth place. Here Irish coach Verhoeven chooses for the first time to start with his static shooter Trisarolis instead of Norman. Whatever inspires Verhoeven to change his lineup for this game, it fails to produce a good result. Until 4-4 Ireland is able to match Slovakia in scoring, then the central Europeans take a lead that they hold on to for the rest of the game. Norman gets substituted in after fourteen minutes to no effect as he also fails to score. Conroy is the main person to produce goals for Ireland. In the other zone Ireland seems to struggle with rebounding with Slovak Horvath towering over everybody there. With 14-18 it's Slovakia that ends victorious.

The other game to determine who will play for thirteenth place is between Japan and Australia. Here Japan shows they are growing in their ability to score. They take a 3-0 lead before Australia gets into the game. They need until 6-6 to establish their dominance on the scoreboard. From then on Australia is in the lead during the whole game. They claim a comfortable 13-21 victory in a game between two squads working hard for their result from fair play.

Last Games Nine to Sixteen and Observations

This brings the following games to determine the ranking for places nine to sixteen:

  • for ninth place Catalunya - England
  • for eleventh place Poland - Hungary
  • for thirteenth place Slovakia - Australia
  • for fifteenth place Ireland - Japan

With these results one observation is that the gap in level between the non-European countries is large. Taiwan and China are now potential medallists, while Australia, Japan, Hong Hong, Macau, South Africa and New Zealand all going to the lower end of the ranking. Surinam is the exception, but they are non-European only in name, as all players play in The Netherlands at high level.

Another observation is that it's hard for developing countries to outgrow their ranking. In this championship this is hardly due to the pool composition or the game structure. Hungary is out of luck facing Belgium in the game to go to the top or bottom half of the tournament, after that they have every opportunity to go for ninth place. The same for Poland, although Germany with their current form is an easier opponent than Belgium. Surinam obviously upset England, but that result is realistic looking at the level of the individual Surinam players and their solid preparation.

This championship so far also knows few changes in starting lineups and few substitutions during games by most countries besides The Netherlands, Belgium and Taiwan. This is most surely caused by a combination of limited talent outside of the starting eight and limited funds to take a full bench of eight to another continent. The fact that a country like Portugal misses some of their talented former U21 players in their squad is a loss for the event. It also shows to me that rule changes to increase the flexibility of substituting are of limited use as long as the financial foundation and player base of a sufficient number of countries is solid enough to bring a bench worthy of using.

Seventeenth Place

In the basement of the championship, seventeenth place goes to Hong Kong after defeating New Zealand 19-22. Despite this loss New Zealand can look back on a good debut on the global stage. Hong Kong may be disappointed about missing out on the top sixteen, but they may find comfort in the fact that Slovakia will be at least fourteenth. They are the country that sent them to the basement division.

World Games 2021

Looking forward to the next global event, with yesterday's results all participants for the 2021 World Games are known. After cheers by Surinam after day five and the announcement by IKF that Surinam, China and Taiwan have qualified, now that it is known that Australia can reach a ranking of maximum thirteen, it is sure that The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Czechia and Germany have qualified. That means the whole top eight of this World Korfball Championship have qualified for the 2021 World Games, representing three continents. The question is why USA is out of the picture as participant as the rule seemed to be that the host country will take part. This was the case in the 2017 World Games in Poland.