It’s a bittersweet result. Even the men’s handball bowed to Japan. They lost by 11 points.
The men’s handball team, led by head coach Hollande Freitas, suffered a shock 23-34 (9-15 14-19) loss to Japan in the semifinals of the Men’s Handball Asian Qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday.
Their dreams of qualifying for the Paris Olympics have been dashed. The tournament awards the winner a spot at the Olympics and the runner-up a spot at the Olympic World Qualifier, scheduled for March 2024. South Korea missed out on both options by not even reaching the final.
South Korean men’s handball qualified for three consecutive Olympic Games, from 1984 in Los Angeles to 1992 in Barcelona. In Seoul in 1988, the team won a silver medal in a sweep of European powerhouses. After missing out on the 1996 Atlanta Games, the team qualified for four consecutive Olympic Games, from Sydney 2000 to London 2012. In total, she competed seven times. He failed to qualify for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and then failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (2021), where he finished second in Asia and third in the world. Until Paris, she had missed out on three consecutive Olympic Games.
The loss to Japan was even more disappointing. Prior to this match, South Korea had a perfect 23-2-3 record against Japan in the all-time series. In their last four matches, they had won three and drawn one, but lost at a crucial juncture. It has been seven years since the two teams met in the group stage of the 2016 Asian Men’s Championship.
The Koreans were in Group A at the tournament. They won 29-23 over the United Arab Emirates, 29-27 over Saudi Arabia, and 46-19 over India before losing 25-39 to Qatar. With a 28-23 win over China, Korea finished with a 4-1 record and advanced to the semifinals as Group A’s second-place team.
Against Japan, the team was plagued by mistakes in the first half, including a series of missed passes. They were unable to make up for it in the second half, conceding back-to-back goals. Lee Hyun-sik (SK Hawks) scored a team-high seven goals, followed by Cho Tae-hoon (Doosan) with five. Goalkeeper Kim Dong-wook (Doosan) recorded four saves and a 12.9% save percentage.
After the game, Coach Freitas said, “We were not accurate with our shots. We made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of the second half,” he said. “We missed some clear no-mark chances. “We made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of the second half. We missed shots on clear no-mark opportunities, and Japan converted easy baskets,” he said.
“We couldn’t overcome that gap in the second half. We tried different options on offense, but our mistakes prevented us from closing the gap.” “We gave up a lot of empowered goals (a tactic where everyone on the court attacks without a goalie). As the mistakes were repeated, the players lost confidence and overall, things didn’t go well.”
When asked about improvements, Fraytas said, “The top four was our primary goal before the tournament. “In the qualifiers, it was difficult to accurately assess our strength because our opponents were not the best in Asia,” he said. “We had a bad game against Japan. Our shooting accuracy dropped considerably, which revealed our problems.”
Kim Jin-young (Korea Handball Association), who scored three goals on the day, said, “None of the tactics we prepared at the beginning worked. We were shaky on defense and made too many mistakes on offense.” “We couldn’t play backcourt, and the score gap at the no-mark made it difficult to keep up. We should have kept the ball properly, but we were in a hurry and kept making mistakes,” he said.
“I think the players didn’t have that feeling,” he said.
There is an assessment that their international competitiveness has declined. Kim Jin-young said, “We lacked a lot of physical conditions, and we couldn’t keep up with the flow of the game because we were behind in terms of speed and stamina. I think we need to improve our speed and stamina,” he said, adding, “I would like to apologize to our fans first. We will prepare well and try to win against Qatar (in the third or fourth place match).”
Kim Yeon-bin (Doosan) said, “Overall, we didn’t play well. We made a lot of mistakes, which made the game difficult, and I think that’s why we lost.” “We didn’t think the gap would be this big. “We didn’t expect the gap to be this big, and I think we played a disappointing game because we didn’t play well enough,” he said.
“We should have played our own handball, but we kept trying to chase the opponent, so we played a difficult game,” he said. “If you believe in the national team and support us to the end, we will reward you with good results.”
Even handball, one of the most internationally competitive sports in Korean sports, recently suffered a loss to Japan. The two-time Olympic champions and six-time medalists defeated the Japanese 25-24, by one goal, in the final of the Asian qualifier for the Paris Olympics in August. But earlier this month, they suffered a 19-29, 10-goal loss in the final of the Hangzhou Asian Games. 스포츠토토