The Belgian handball men have been taken off their cloud. After the euphoria against Tunisia, the sobering against Bahrain followed. Despite a blitz start, the Red Wolves lost their last group match (28-30) and have to be satisfied with 3rd place in their group, just enough for a place in the next round. In it they meet Egypt, Croatia and the United States.
Red Wolves give away 5-0 lead
The very first World Cup victory, 31-29 against Tunisia, had given the Belgians wings. Against Bahrain they started the game scorching.
Kötters flew every ball in from his corner and goalkeeper Lettens kept the clean sheet on the board for a long time: 5-0.
But after about 10 minutes the Belgian machine started to sputter, while Bahrain’s got going. The number 2 in Asia cracked Lettens’ code and balanced the score: 9-9.
It could be worse. Face to face with goalkeeper Mohamed, Belgium piled on the misses, Bahrain ran out and went into the break with a bonus of 3 goals: 12-15.
It was allowed to storm in the Belgian dressing room.
Belgian tactics offer no solace
Perhaps it was just a storm at half time as Bahrain sped further away from Belgium.
Admittedly, the Bahrain goalkeeper was also a good goalkeeper. The Red Wolves seemed to be shooting blanks.
National coach Sylla used his well-known tactics and fielded 7 field players against 6 in the attack. Without much success.
Glorieux also got red shoved under his nose. His opponent had stood on his foot, the arbitration saw it the other way around.
Bahrain played out its experience on the highest stage. In the closing minutes, the quarter-finalist of the Games in Tokyo had mercy.
Belgium was allowed to approach 2 goals. Final score: 28-30.
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Just enough for qualification
Bahrain closes the group as 2nd, thanks to the logical victory of defending champion Denmark against Tunisia (34-21), Belgium is 3rd.
That is just enough for a place in the second round. In it they will meet Egypt, Croatia and the United States in the coming days.
8 – Raphael Koetters
5 – Arber Qerimi
4 – Tom Robyns
2 – Bartosz Kedziora
3 – Nick Braun
1 – Jeroen De Beule
1 – Yannick Glorious
1 – Simon Uncles
1 – Kobe Serras
1 – Serge Spooren
1 – Yves Vancosen
Reactions after Belgium v Bahrain at the World Cup:
“We are disappointed,” responds national coach Yerime Sylla. “We can do better, we were worth second place in our group. We didn’t succeed.”
“At a certain point they started to score and we started to miss too easily. What is especially unfortunate is that we also started to defend less.”
“Everyone is a bit tired,” the coach admits. “Playing three matches in a short time is new for us. That should not be an excuse, the same applies to Bahrain.”
“We will have to get over this disappointment quickly, in order to play the next matches as well as possible”, concludes Sylla.
“When Bahrain started to get going, we started to have some doubts,” says builder Jeroen De Beule. “Just like in the previous matches, we lost duels. That is how we let Bahrain come into the match again.”
“It is sour to lose like this. We have ourselves to blame for the defeat. We did not play the perfect game, it had to be better.”
“Physically it was not too bad,” says the 31-year-old player. “Everyone is experiencing some aches and pains, but we are still in shape.”
“We now know what it feels like to win at a World Cup. We want to feel that again.”
“We collapsed too much, we missed too many shots and there were holes in the defense”, Simon Ooms analyses.
“We had insisted beforehand that we also wanted to win this match. So it was a big disappointment.”
“The experience of Bahrain should not be an excuse, we just had to win the match,” says the 28-year-old circle player.