This week, national teams around Europe are playing the first two rounds of the qualification of the EHF EURO 2018. In Group 7, Hungary met Kosovo in the opening round in a historic match. As Kosovo is quite a new member of the European Handball Federation, their national team hasn’t had much chance to prove themselves among the best European teams. The small country’s team played qualification only twice: for the EURO 2016 and for the world championship in 2017 and they failed both times in the preliminaries before making it to the Qualification Phase 2 this year. Basically, this was Kosovo’s first match among Europe’s top teams and they didn’t have an easy task ahead. In the opening round, they travelled to Budapest to take on Hungary. Obviously, the two teams have never met before.
If Kosovo’s task wasn’t hard enough, they lost their best player Leonora Demaj already before the match. The young back player was missing from the court due to an illness. The home crowd didn’t have to wait too long for the first goal, Szabina Mayer opened the flow of goals for the Hungarians in the 2nd minute. Kosovo scored their first goal in the 4th minute and they celebrated every little success during the match. Hungary’s level of concentration wasn’t exactly as head coach Kim Rasmussen had imagined, and at the same time, Kosovo’s best player on court Dorentina Osmani was making some beautiful saves in the goal. Hungary was clearly superior from the first moment until the last, but this was nothing surprising. As Kosovo’s attacks didn’t give a hard task to solve for the clearly taller and stronger Hungarian defense, this gave many chances for fast breaks for the Hungarian team. Bernadett Bódi entered the game really well, the right wing scored fast goals after each other to make the difference two digits for the first time in the 26th minute (14-4). Until the break, Hungary managed to add three more goals to the difference: with the 18-5 lead for the home team, the second half didn’t promise too much excitement.
Nothing surprising happened in the second half, Hungary kept the game under control and the difference kept on growing between the two sides. The young Kosovan national team – their national team mostly consists of players under 20 years – showed some great moments, especially in the first part of the second half, while Kim Rasmussen tried to give playing time to every player in the squad. In the 43rd minute, 19-year-old Noémi Háfra entered the court in her first ever match in the senior national team, and the home crowd didn’t have to wait too long for her first goal: with her shot in the 52nd minute, the difference was 20 goals (32-12). The young back player left her footprint in the adult competition – the goal of the match was a great cooperation between her and Anita Görbicz: the team captain gave a beautiful assist to the newbie who scored a spectacular alley-oop goal. Kosovo couldn’t manage to score in the last 13 minutes, while Anita Görbicz, as a good captain, made sure that every player on court had at least one goal in the end of the match. Hungary defeated Kosovo 37-12 and made the first step on the road to France.
EHF EURO 2018 – Qualification Group 7 – Round 1
Hungary – Kosovo 37-12 (18-5)
Hungary: Bódi 6, Görbicz 6(2), Szöllősi-Zácsik 4, Háfra 3, Lukács 3, Tomori 2, Kisfaludy 2, Klivinyi 2, Szekeres 2, Kovács 2, Kovacsics 2(1), Hársfalvi 1, Schatzl 1, Mayer 1
Kosovo: Aliu 4, Rexhepi 4, Qorrai 3, Stagova 1
Penalties: 3/3; –
Suspensions: 2 minutes ; 4 minutes
In the other match of the group:
Netherlands – Belarus 33-21 (16-10)
Best scorer for Netherlands: L. Abbingh 6
Best scorer for Belarus: Nestsiaruk 5