RIJEKA — The women’s team from Japan had looked strong throughout the tournament but was far from being considered a favourite when the World University Handball Championship had started on 30 July. They stunned a few teams though, along the group stages and in fact lost their only match to Brazil en route to the final. It was time for sweet revenge in the title clash where the role of both goalkeepers turned out to be crucial.
Brazilian goalkeeper Meira was the one that kept the morale of her team up in the first half, as it finished 11:10 in their favour. In the second half, it was time for the Japanes goalkeeper to shine.Baba Atsuko defended three shots from the wing and a few more chances to ensure that Japan won 27:19, even though Brazil played really well. Nakayama Kaho was also a key player for Japan, scoring 8 goals for her side. “We still can not believe what just happened,” Japanese captain Horikawa Mana reacted after the win. “We are happy, we are thrilled, we didn’t expect this at all.”
The men’s final clash was between Republic of Korea and hosts Croatia, who improved steadily through the tournament to make it to the finals. Korea on the other hand, was unstoppable throughout and the final was no different, with their signature fast and aggressive play.The keenly contested match was full of amazing goals and action, and finally ended 36:31 in favour of the Koreans.