What a handball tournament, what madness!
Macedonia won its second match, this time against Montenegro 29-28, but not before crazy drama in the prior match of Group C in which the Lithhuanian refs literally saved Germany from certain defeat from Slovenia.
As Slovenia scored in the last seconds of the match for a 25-24 win followed by a wild celebration, the refs paused for a second, went to the video screen, debated for 20 minutes with each other and decided to give a penalty to Germany so they can tie the score. And so in the end, Germany scored the penalty and the match ended in a draw 25-25!
The draw complicated things in Group C, and now Macedonia definitely needed a win, a loss would have essentially nullified their great win against Slovenia’s UFC team.
One could sense Macedonia was under tremendous pressure from the get go, and in typical fashion when under pressure they started quite sluggish. However, it must be said that the Montenegrins saved all of their energy precisely for the Macedonia match, considering they didn’t even try against Germany and lost their opening match by 13 goals.
The difference was once again, El Komandante, the Macedonian nickname for coach Raul Gonzales. He decided to insert Kuzmanovski into the lineup in the 2nd half, after Montenegro took a 1 goal lead on half time. It was Kuzmanovski who helped remove the burden on the rest of the players. Filip Kuzmanovski scored five goals, most of which came at crucial intervals of the match, including one that took a 24-20 lead to Macedonia.
Montenegro played for all or nothing and certainly made things interesting, getting back to 24-26, then 26-28, however it was Macedonia who kept their cool and showed their maturity in the end by wrapping up the match with 29-28 win. Filip Lazarov, the quiet assassin, once again scored the winning goal for Macedonia.
Next up for Macedonia is Germany. EHF has shown if needed, they will award a penalty after the match has ended to ensure Germany progresses to the next round. Good grief, we know Germany is by far the largest financier of the EHF, but lets not make a mockery of the sport.