2019 World Korfball Championship Quarter Finals
Today the quarter finals in the top eight continue on the path started by England the day before as clashes between squads get rougher now the stakes go up.
Portugal too Limited Against China
The first of the top quarter finals is between China and Portugal. The Portuguese choose to keep a high tempo again with China matching them in that. Portugal starts with a 0-2 lead and from that the game stays level up to 9-9 before the limits of Portugal start to show. By halftime China has a three point lead (15-12) that basically is the foundation for their 25-21 victory. The amount of goals in the first ten minutes is high compared to other higher ranked squads meeting so far.
Various things happen during this game. In the first half China is luring the tall rebounders away from the korf in defence without Portugal acting on it. Also the defensive weakness of Portugal is shown as China can force running-ins from ball possession and from that get space for distance shots. It seems that the Portuguese players with reach rarely work on their defence as they can use their long arms to block passes. The weakness of the Portuguese bench also comes in to play. Portugal is there with only four substitutions and the only one looking to be usable is Fernandes. In this game though the women are failing, with the exception of a very strong Almeida, scoring six. Portugal needs another Almeida in the other zone, but that zone has two short girls that lack power to shoot well from more than around six metres. Luisa Costa is too invisible in her zone. Portugal also just misses more shots than China. They need a higher percentage to win this game. This is probably also a matter of training. China trains ten times a week, a number Portugal won't reach by far. Still a big question is why Portugal chooses not to disrupt China by playing their controlled game. China is the first to go to the semi-finals.
Taiwan - Surinam Rough Clash
Second quarter final of the day is Taiwan - Surinam. This basically starts out as a Korfball League game in physicality and intensity where after ten minutes it's a level 5-5. The second quarter Taiwan outperforms Surinam with scoring, leading to 13-8 at halftime. Surinam shows a more varied game than in earlier games with the women more in an attacking role, where our Korfball Hero Jaleesa Claver has a strong game with scoring.
The second half Taiwan somehow loses their flow from the second quarter. It seems tied to an incident in the first half where a Taiwan player runs down Van der Steen. That Taiwan zone goes has a talk after the incident and it looks like they try to get the nagging and physical play out by slowing down the game. It brings Surinam back to two goals as they handle the change better than Taiwan. With ten minutes to go they are at 16-14. The last quarter things get out of hand. Taiwan speeds up again, which brings back the physical game now common in the Dutch Korfball League. At some point it starts with Wu going to half wrestle with Karsters as he is able to draw frustration from Wu. This leads to Wu taking it out on Claver and gets away with that, while Van Dijk gets a card for commenting. After that also Van Dijk is played rough by his defender. All these incidents lead to few goals in that last part and ultimately an 18-20 Taiwan victory, bringing them to the semi-finals. Besides the physical play getting out of hand again, Surinam is getting mainly restarts where Taiwan gets more free passes, which gets the Taiwanese an advantage in scoring possibilities.
Belgium Counters Tight Czech Defence
The third quarter final is between Belgium and Czech Republic. The Czechs basically have the same tactics as against The Netherlands where their aim is to defend tightly to frustrate the opponent. This seems to have the same success against Belgium, who seem to struggle with this at times. They also already resort to their weapon of more physical play to counter the Czech tactics. At halftime it's 12-4 for Belgium and finally the game ends with 27-10, meaning both squads score more than the Netherlands - Czech game. As expected Belgium goes to the semi-finals fairly unchallenged.
Netherlands Unchallenged by Germany
In the last quarter final Germany knows they are without hope as The Netherlands works on their scoring. At half time it's already 13-3 and with 25-9 Germany is allowed a bit more play the second half. Marjolijn Kroon gets six goals here for the gender equity aspect being more in The Netherlands scoring this championship.
Updated Semi-final Predictions
With these quarter finals over, the semi-finals will see Taiwan - Belgium and Netherlands - China. The first game now has a high probability in becoming all-out war as both squads already show they go overboard physically and get away with it. With Belgium being a master at rough rumbles for decades and having a squad in good form, the odds are in favour of Belgium. With the events so far my view is it will be close and ugly.
Netherlands - China may also be close at times, just China has shown no signs of being able to defeat Netherlands. The Dutch defend much better than Portugal and will not allow Zhao and the other Chinese to shoot so freely. Also The Netherlands has a bench they can use to rotate at will while China has been playing with mostly the same starting lineup.
Knock-out Phase Nine to Sixteen
There are also other games during the quarter finals day. For places nine to sixteen it's also the knock-out phase, meaning each game counts.
The most anticipated and potentially equal game in this part of the ranking is the first, Ireland - Poland. Poland starts strong here, also having some changes in the starting line-up. Rubinkowski and Siemieniuk are separated, allowing Siemieniuk to show her strength more and Musialinski is also starting again after showing good form in the previous game. Ireland manages to come back to one goal and have that halfway the game, 7-8. The second half Poland breaches the Irish defence completely and goes to a seven goal lead. The Irish tactic to bring in a static shooter fails them this time. In the last five minutes Poland starts to substitute and that works out just well enough with this lead to secure them a 12-16 victory. One good point in this Poland victory is that all starting players score goals while Ireland mainly depends on Conroy and Norman. A collective win by Poland that should give them confidence for the next games.
Catalunya is in their old form again after the Iberian clash against Portugal and have no problems with Slovakia. With a 4-13 score half way, it's obvious Catalunya is winning this game and they do with 25-8.
England starts against Japan with a few different players, probably giving them some rest, including Palfreyman after a weak performance against Surinam in the attack. This different lineup needs some twelve minutes to find a way to deal with the Japanes and then starts to increase the goal difference. At halftime it's 4-9 which apparently feels uncomfortable enough to bring on Brennan, Patel and Palfreyman to seal the deal. They do so, ending the game at a comfortable 6-25.
Hungary against Australia is a fair game where Hungary is on top against a hard working Australian squad. Zsolt Majer is back in the starting lineup and he leads his zone in the game. The scoring on Hungarian side is a bit weaker than against China, which allows Australia to follow fairly close. The playing level differs more than the score shows, which is a pity as Australia has a well organised structure around the squad and works on professionalism in that regard. They just miss too many key players and it shows. Halfway it's already 11-5 and that is not score Australia would have allowed a few years ago. But then Hungary would not have created that advantage a few years ago either. With 22-15 Hungary wins comfortably, but not comfortably enough.
These results mean the following games the next day:
Poland - Catalunya, where the odds are in favour of Catalunya now they seem to have found their good level,
England - Hungary which now most likely will go to England in a rather unpleasant game which will stay close in scoring,
Ireland - Slovakia should normally be won by Ireland who show to be decent in scoring compared to their opponents and can now reward themselves with a victory,
Japan - Australia can go either way as Japan gets to score a lot and Australia seems to lack ways to disrupt their opponents.
Bottom Four as Expected
For the bottom four Hong Hong has an easy win over Macau, 19-7 and South Africa versus New Zealand should have pleased the crowd, having many goals, although ending wrongly for host country South Africa, 13-21.