2019 World Korfball Championships Eighth Final Games
After a day of holding dangerous snakes, cute black children, seeing the Big Five, swinging across football stadiums or getting tangled up in Yoga classes, the players are back on the korfball courts for the eighth finals.
Belgium - Hungary
The sixteen qualifiers start with Belgium versus Hungary. With Hungary leaving Szolt Majer on the bench you know they are not looking to repeat their performance against China. Without this main scorer most of the danger has to come from the other end with Kristóf Bellusz. At the same time Belgium starts without their Big Three Hardies, Caluwé and Driesen, having Korfball Hero Brent Struyf and Jarre de Ley as main people starting. Hungary puts decent play on the pitch, mainly looking unlucky with scoring compared to two days ago. Also their clever moves that work against China get seen through by the experienced Belgian players. What is good to see on the Belgian side is that they look to have the women score more, a change of style from their traditional play having strong scoring men in the center of attack.
The Belgian move to leave some of their best players on the bench is without consequences against this Hungary. Belgium has a history of underestimating opponents, the last example being last year at the European Championships, where they lose against Germany because of this en with that miss out on that final. In this game is works out well, certainly when at half time Hungary substitutes four players. After a decent first half, Belgium shows their good form. This is enhanced when Hardies, Caluwé and Driesen are brought on. With tall women like Caluwé towering over the shorter Hungarian girls, this makes it harder for them to play fluent attacks and surprise Belgium with clever passes. The game ends a clear 27-6 for Belgium. It does show that Hungary is nearing the level of Czech Republic in the quality they can bring. An issue seems to be the fitness of the group to last through a whole tournament. Looking at a Kristóf Bellusz shoot from big distance and difficult angles with flair shows they are growing. They do need to be able to bring it for more games though. Belgium fairly easy to the top eight.
Taiwan - Japan
At the same time in the other hall Taiwan plays Japan. This game appears to be rather odd as potential number sixteen Japan scores no less than twenty-two goals against potential finalist Taiwan. Just looking at the fourty-two goals by Taiwan a casual observer may think it's just a clear victory, but compare it to Netherlands Czech Republic or Belgium - Hungary. Those better underdogs don't even get to ten goals and Japan goes to twenty-two. And Japan does that by scoring eight in the last ten minutes for instance. Looking at this game it almost looks like a friendly practise game between both squads. Both are attacking freely and undisturbed as neither squad seems particularly eager to press the other squad out to the sides. You can blame Taiwan for changing their whole squad at halftime, but the players coming in include Korfball Hero Ya-Wen Lin, whose task it is to defend the shortest player of the championship and allows her to shoot. This makes for a high scoring game but also with a rather casual feel. 42-22 Is the final result and Taiwan is on to the top eight.
Netherlands - Ireland, Germany - Poland, China - Slovakia
Netherlands gets a good feeling back against Ireland after being unhappy against Czech Republic. They win 35-7 and go on to the top eight as expected. They start with their subs and the scoring is more from the male side in this game. Germany will be their opponent as they are rather unchallenged by Poland and beat them 22-9. Poland starting mostly with their main players. First time that Musialinski starts as part of the line-up instead of tall Nowacki. Both Netherlands and Germany go to the top eight easily.
China has absolutely no problems with Slovakia in the next game. Zhao and Li alone produce already ten goals amongst each other in the first half, coming to a 15-5 half time score. The second half is almost an exact copy, with the Chinese scoring being more spread over all players, resulting in 31-9. China is on to the top eight without being really tested.
Surinam - England
At the same time Surinam plays England in a game that is quite the opposite of Taiwan - Japan. England is pushing the edges of what is allowed in this game and go overboard multiple times, resulting in two charges by their top scoring player Vogwill near the end. With the second charge at the free pass the question should not be if he should have gotten a card, but the colour of the card. He gets away with another 'stern talk' by referee Filip, after he already got a similar talk in the first half. It feels like watching Germany from a few years back, which is no compliment.
Before this low point of the championship Suriam starts well and controls most of the first half in the score. At 4-6 England edges close, but generally Surinam is able to keep the difference around four goals, including the 8-12 halftime advantage. The second half England literally fight themselves back to 14-14. Then with also two goals by a very agitated Karsters the difference goes back to 14-18. England fights back to 17-18, but again this time Surinam bounces back, with Van Dijk more or less closing the lid for England with his 17-20 from diagonally behind the korf in a period of long Surinam attacks with strong rebound. When the game is already won after Brouwer's 17-21 form distance follow the disgraceful charges by Vogwill and a scored penalty on both sides to get to the 18-22 final score. This brings Surinam to the top eight.
Interesting to see is that where England in phases uses violent rushes inside to force chances, free passes or penalties, on the Surinam side they limit this. The play from 14-14 on results mainly in medium and long distance goals, where Van Dijk has already shown against China to be able to create penalties in a similar way with relative ease. That shows their class as well as their experience and calmed temper, after a less controlled first half. They also bring in Stienstra in the second half to guard Vogwill more tightly.
This play by England poses a problem in a potential semi final game against Hungary. With younger, more passionate players like Kristóf Bellusz, the game can get out of hand with refereeing like today if England chooses the same strategy. When squads test the limits like England, it's the referee that determines the duration and intensity of this undesired behaviour. So far it's Tina van Grimberge and Luke Rosie who have shown to be strict in this championship, so let's hope for one of them on the game Hungary - England or at least a well prepared Hungary should they meet.
Czechia - Australia
That brings us to Czech Republic versus Australia. This is a rather uneventful affair despite Bungey putting Australia at a 0-2 lead. After that the Czechs go about their business and make up in scoring what they lack two days earlier against The Netherlands. With having to put less effort in defence, they go to a 15-7 half time score. They ease down a bit in the second half and end at 27-15. This means Czechia to the top eight as well.
Nice to see with the Czechs is that their goals come from most players, including a fair share of women goals and most of the subs. One missing from the score sheet is Petr Snajdr. It's another game where he comes on in the second half to replace his age equal Vyroubal to take on rebound duty. Where Vyroubal with his extra height is a good rebounder with a decent shot, Snajdr is known to be a fine main attacker, so it feels wasted to put him mainly at the post. It would make for a very changing zone with different players taking rebound alternatively, having also Havlová there as a tall female player.
Portugal - Catalunya
Last is the Iberian clash Portugal versus Catalunya. Despite Catalunya being weaker than usual this world korfball championship, in this game there is no trace of that. Both teams speed it up two gears compared to their earlier games, including loads of passion and focus, making for a tight second quarter after Portgual being more accurate in the first ten minutes. Purtugal leads by a mere 6-7 at halftime.
The second half tension is on as the scoring goes to 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9 with even a Catalan lead before Portugal going to 9-11. The last ten minutes Portugal secures victory when they go to 10-14. The difference between this traditional clash and the earlier England display is perhaps best shown near the end of the third quarter when a Catalan player falls and Luz from Portugal immediately stops and points at the fallen player to ask the referee to stop play. There teams are tough to each other without being rough. This 10-14 victory brings Portugal to the top eight.
Quarter Final Update
These results bring the expected eight squads in the quarter finals for the top eight spots. With China being able to use their strong points to good effect and Portugal being pulled out of their controlled play, the odds may be more in Chinese favour for their upcoming confrontation now.
Taiwan and Surinam meet each other coming out of two totally different games. Taiwan can't afford to be this loose against Surinam as they are against Japan and they won't. They will surely be more fit than the rather bruised Surinam squad. Van Dijk already looks like he can go into a cramp near the end of the game against England. The odds are more strongly in favour of Taiwan, unless Van Dijk and Karsters get some magical massage to bring extra life into these thirty-six year old bodies. They carry this squad and they will feel this last game.
Belgium should have no serious problem against Czech Republic. It will be a fair comparison where they stand compared to The Netherlands, who play the Czechs two days earlier. There the Czechs have a low score and force the Dutch into an under pr performance. When Belgium passes this exam well, they will look ready for the semi finals.
Netherlands versus Germany is a no-brainer in terms of result. Germany may gain some confidence when they are able to frustrate the Dutch and score their shots more easily than in the first phase of the championship.
In the lower eight the prediction between Ireland and Poland still stands. both squads will have anticipated their result today and should enter with the same confidence of two days ago. Catalunya have increased their chances of beating Slovakia, now the fire of passion is fuelled by Portugal. We will see what England will do against Japan after their Surinam game in terms of sportsmanship. There should be no need for a similar tactic against Japan to secure victory. Hungary should still win Australia. If something that Australia is, it's fit, so it looks like they will give Hungary a hard time. Failing now is not really an option for Hungary anymore and they seem consistent enough against Belgium to win against Australia.
In the basement of the championship Hong Kong beat South Africa 11-16. The goal difference is fairly limited, so that may give a sense of improvement for South Africa. The start is clearly for Hong Kong, as well as the third quarter. New Zealand has a clear 21-8 victory over Macau and will feel ready to take on Hong Kong. First they will face South Africa though.