Second finals day at World Championship U21 recap

We have arrived on the last day of the World Korfball Championship Under 21. Four teams will fight for three medals later today with the historical final between The Netherlands and Belgium restored. Taiwan will play Portugal for Bronze, but we start with Hungary trying to claim fifth place against China.

These two had a different past week. Hungary started on a high, winning their first two games, but then had some problems in later games. They did end on a high as they beat Hong Kong and are now playing for fifth place. For China, it’s a bit the other way around. They started a bit weak, but grew into the tournament. They also seem to be favorite for this game, though not by much.
Hungary looks nervous. They counter China’s first goal, but then China goes to a 1-5 lead and Hungary is forced in a time out. This seems to help as Kitty Horvath score two and brings the gap back to two goals. Around two hundred spectators see Hungary come back to 4-5 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter it’s a more even game. China keeps the lead, but Hungary follow until the end of the second quarter. They play quite well, but their finishing lets them down. Halftime arrives at 7-10 for China.
In the third quarter there is no change to this. Hungary play good korfball. Quite well organized and there are some long attacks, but the ball just doesn’t want to fall for them. China stays in the lead after thirty minutes with 10-14, only converting one more compared to Hungary. The Hungarian get fierce support now in the final quarter from the crowd. With that help and a more inward game tactic, they manage to come back to 14-16 with five minutes to go. Looks like momentum has gone their way now and China flees into a time out to disrupt Hungary and get themselves focused again. With four minutes to go, Hungary ties the game at 16-16. Both teams score two more, so we end at 18-18 and go to golden goal.
China’s Fu scores the first attempt, so Hungary has an equalizing attempt. Hungary gets a chance to score from a penalty shot and Dani Lang does. On the other side, China misses a penalty shot and the game is over now after the first next goal. It is China who, probably deservedly win the game with 19-20 after Linpeng Zhu scores the winning golden goal. He is also player of the game with his important scoring and good defending.

The bronze medal game is between Taiwan and Portugal. Taiwan is a bit disappointed they don’t play the final and it will be interesting to see how they cope with that disappointment. Portugal is the ‘surprise’ of the tournament. They deserve to play this game and they even have a fighting chance. In the group stages the two played each other and that ended in 16-19 for Taiwan. It is not unthinkable that this time, the score is the other way around.
Portugal starts well and Laura Wagenmaker scores two in the beginning, securing a 0-2 lead, but after that, it is only Taiwan. Taiwan is outplaying Portugal on all fronts in the first quarter and the score is 2-7 after ten minutes of play. Chang is a menace for Correia, creating lots of chances with her speed, getting her some penalty shots for her teammate Tseng to finish. This all changes in the second quarter. After a passionate speech of their coach, Portugal pick up their game and make it an exciting second quarter. At half time, the defecate is only four at 11-7, reducing the gap with one goal.
After halftime, Portugal keeps reducing the gap goal by goal. They manage to keep Taiwan on two goals in the third quarter and manage to come back to 11-13. Ten more minutes to go and Taiwan has to be careful not to give the Portuguese the feeling they can win, because then it could lose them bronze. After three minutes, Portugal ties the game at 13-13. Taiwan keeps scoring, but Portugal can counter every time, until 16-15. A good goal of Chang give Taiwan a two goal lead again, but it is still not over with three minutes to play. The 18-16 is the final blow with less than a minute left. Portugal came back strong after a bad first quarter and gave Taiwan a serious run for their money, but in the end, Taiwan wins the bronze medal. Both teams can be proud of this achievement, although it is always hard to lose and the Portuguese tears are running free.
Player of the game is Shi Chi Chang. Although not scoring that many today, she did make four and got her teammates a lot of chances due to her hard work and speed.

The final is between The Netherlands and Belgium. After a few finals without Belgium last few tournaments, they are back in the final. The Netherlands will still be favorite, but they will have to work for it against a highly motivated Belgian squad.
In the first quarter, Belgium can keep up with the Dutch. In a close game, The Netherlands still lead after ten minutes though with 5-7. In the second quarter, Belgium changes Levi van den Dycke and Jarre de Ley to the other zone. In the meantime, The Netherlands is extending their lead to 7-11. Halftime score is 11-8 and we are looking at almost the same game as last week, when they met each other in the group stage. Then it was 9-11 for the Dutch and they made the difference in the third quarter. This time though, they can’t shake Belgium of their backs. Although they extend the lead to 11-15, Belgium is back on two goals after thirty minutes at 14-16 and there is still all to play for. At 18-20, Belgium takes a time out for the last minute, trying to planning a way through the Dutch defense. It doesn’t matter anymore as The Netherlands scores after an interception and with thirty seconds left, the game is over at 18-21. This is the final score and with that, The Netherlands is World Champion under 21. For the first time, as this is the first U21 championship. Belgium got close though and it seems they are on their way back as a country after some bad results recently.
Captain of The Netherlands Leander Zwolle is player of the game, but the best man of the field today was Peter Busik. Credits where they’re due, he had an excellent final as referee.