The Hungarian men’s handball team defeated Iceland 30-28 in the second round of the group stage of the Olympic qualifying tournament on Saturday. The match was extremely close, with Iceland leading until the last minutes, but the Hungarian team miraculously managed to turn the game around.
At Saturday’s meeting, the venue was almost full and the atmosphere was fantastic, thanks to 4,500 Icelandic fans and a good number of Hungarian fans. The Hungarian team deliberately slowed the game down on the offensive end, but despite this they started with several mistakes, which their opponents took advantage of. In the tenth minute the Hungarians managed to equalize, because the defense started to come together.
However, after that, the attack lost all momentum and the substitutes could not help, and they had to play almost constantly at a man down. In addition, unforced errors in attack were always quickly capitalized on by Iceland’s best players, who led by five goals at the break.
Against the Icelanders, who played with pace, speed, accuracy, and few mistakes, the Hungarians found it terribly difficult to play in the second half, but fortunately, the Hungarian team eventually gained new momentum.
Hungarian goalkeeper Roland Mikler made several great saves in the last couple of minutes, and based on this, the team closed with a 5-0 series and won with a great bravura.
During the match, many had already predicted an Icelandic victory due to their advantage, including the Iceland Cricket Association. They had already written a post on Twitter at half-time in which they disparaged the Hungarian team, writing: “We are turning them into goulash.” However, as the saying goes, do not count your chickens before they hatch, and this was especially true for this match.
In the end, the cricket association did not even react to the Hungarian victory until the next day, but even then they insisted that the Icelanders had “turned the Hungarians into goulash,” adding that after the match, they had to eat humble pie.
After the game, Hungarian national captain Chema Rodríguez called the victory amazing and added that the players had fought hard throughout the whole match. “The boys believed in themselves and in the team because we are like a family,” he said.
The two teams also played each other last year at the European Handball Championship in Hungary, with Iceland winning by one goal, 31-30, and knocking Hungary out of the tournament at home. The reverse result of this weekend’s game, however, may give the Hungarian team some hope for a better showing in the current tournament.
The Hungarians won 35-27 against South Korea on Thursday and will close the group stage against Portugal on Monday at 8:30 pm. With the Hungarian team already through to the semi-finals in Gothenburg, they will face European champions Sweden, as well as Brazil and Cape Verde.
Featured photo via MTI/Kovács Tamás