Belgrade, Dec 22, 2013: Brazil have gone all the way in Belgrade: By beating host Serbia in a thrilling final of the Women’s World Championship on Sunday (22 December) by 22:20 they made history by their first World Championship title ever, the second one for a Non-European team after Korea 1995. Attended by the new world record audience for women’s handball matches of 19.467 – the third world record in one week – the match was the emotional final highlight of an impressive tournament, but ended in tears for the Serbian players. They wanted to make their history becoming World Champions 40 years after Yugoslavia had won the World Championship final in Belgrade.
After the Serbian men, losing the European championship 2012 final against Denmark in Belgrade, also the women missed their dream title.
Brazil were not only a deserved winner in a final, which was decided by the last two shots of each side, but of the whole World Championship, as they won all their nine matches until the final – including the 25:23 against Serbia in the preliminary round.
And after the final whistle they danced their samba on the court, including their top scorer Alexandra Nascimento (6 goals). Best Serbian scorer was Dragana Cvijic by five goals.
Final: Brazil – Serbia 22:20 (13:11)
The first half was a complete up and down. Brazil had not been impressed by the atmosphere caused by the new spectator’s world record, but played patiently and clever. But backed by five early goals of All Star Team line player Dragana Cvijic and a video support message of tennis world star Novak Djokovic, Serbia equalized the early Brazilian lead and marched ahead to a 8:6, the first two goal lead of the host. On the other hand Fernanda da Silva and later Alexandra Nascimento took over the control for the Pan-Americans, who again were backed by the All Star Team goalkeeper Barbara Arenhart.
After the 9:10 the Brazilians scored four consecutive times to gain their first three goal advance right before the break including three strikes of outstanding Nascimento. And surprisingly the Pan-Americans did not even leave the court during the halftime and did not enter their dressing room.
So they could see the 1973 Women’s World Champion team of Yugoslavia, cheered by the nearly 20.000 fans.
But despite the huge pressure the fans tried to put on them, Brazil played cold as ice. Even with one player less on the court, Eduarda Amorim scored twice to extend the margin to five goals to 16:11 in minute 35, finishing an 8:1 series spanning both halves.
Serbia did not give up, in contrast: they managed to turn the roller coaster again by a quadruple strike and boosted by goalkeeper Katarina Tomasevic, who saved two penalty shots in only one minute. The audience went crazy, when Damnjanovic hit the net for 16:15.
And from that moment on the Kombank-Arena was “on fire”, the fans frenetically supported their team in full volume. Both sides fought for every centimeter, both sides could hide the fact that it was their ninth match in two weeks.
Brazil lacked precision in attack, but now were boosted by the saves of goalkeeper Mayssa Pessoa. But even she could not prevent her team from the first equalizer in the second half, when Jelena Nisavic netted in for 19:19 four minutes before the final buzzer.
90 seconds on the clock. Brazil score for 21:20, missed shot by tragic hero Cvijic, Rodrigues hitting the net for 22:20, Pessoa saves again – the match was decided 55 seconds before the end. And while the audience was shocked, Brazil started their gold medal party.
Statements after the match
Morten Soubak, coach Brazil: We are honest, we are proud. We are also happy, but much more proud than happy. This is another big step for Brazilian handball, probably the biggest up to now. We played in a fantastic arena, and as I heard there were only few shouting for Brazil. But concerning the pressure, my team was able to handle it quite good.
Eduarda Amorim, player Brazil: We have had this dream in the beginning of this tournament. And step by step we grew as a team. We believed we were able to go for medal, but not for the gold one. I am really proud to be part of this team.
Alexandra Nascimento , player Brazil: This is the best day in my life. I’m so happy. Our heart was our strength today. It was an extra motivation to play at this great atmosphere. I have to thank four persons. First of all I have to thank my mother. We are poor. My father died. But she supported me all the time. The second one is Gunnar Prokop from Vienna. Number three is my former coach Andrasz Nemeth. I learned a lot. And last but not least I have to thank my husband. He is not from Brazil. He is a handball player from Chile, left handed like me. He motivated me extra before this final. Now I’m happy to fly home.
Fabiana Diniz, player Brazil: The medal and the title are the best Christmas presents in my life. Now we are more than a number at the globe of handball. What a final! Ups and downs every minute! But finally we won. Now we will make the biggest party ever.
Barbara Arenhart, goalkeeper Brazil: I’m World Champion; I’m in the All Star Team. It is incredible. Tomorrow I will wake up and if my medal is on my bedside table than this day was not a fairy tale. Best I leave the medal hanging around my neck tonight.
Mayssa Pessoa, goalkeeper Brazil: There was a poster on the upper rank of the arena with personal greetings and best wishes. I was surprised. This was a surprise from my Russian friends from Volgograd. It was an extra motivation. I was waiting for my chance. Then coach Morten Soubak said: “Let’ rock!” Perhaps I could help the team at this difficult moment. Now we are happy. But we will stay with the feeds on the ground. We have to work a lot. Our main goal are the Olympic Games.
Sasa Boskovic, coach Serbia: Congratulation to the Brazilian team. They were better, no doubt. But even the silver medal is a huge success. As my colleague said to be proud, I am even prouder.
Jelena Nisavic, player Serbia: We really wanted to win the gold medal but it wasn’t meant to be this time. When we saw our passionate 20,000 home crowd, having beaten Norway in a similar atmosphere, we really believed that we would be crowned world champions but we didn’t take our chances in the closing stages of the match. Still this is a huge success for Serbian women’s handball because it’s our first medal in 40 years.
Katarina Tomasevic, player Serbia: I have mixed emotions about this result – on one hand I am delighted that we have won the silver medal but on the other, I am sad that we failed to capture the title. It was a close match but we made too many unforced errors. Andrea Lekic’s injury probably affected us, although she gave a 150 percent. This is a massive success for us and an incentive to work even harder to win the gold medal the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Sanja Damnjanovic, player Serbia: We are delighted despite losing the final and feeling a bit of pain for not winning the gold medal. Brazil were a tiny notch better than us and deserved to be crowned World Champions. In a few days, when the dust settles and we come to our senses, we will realize what an achievement this is. We were a bit slack in defence in the first half while our attack wasn’t at its best in the second. Overall, we committed too many turnovers in our second defeat of the tournament against Brazil. This is a good basis to improve further as we have shown plenty of character and team spirit in this World Championship.
Andrea Lekic, player Serbia: Brazil played it on a very, very good level today. On one side I am sad that we lost the final, on the other side I am proud. I was dreaming of a medal for my whole life, for my whole career. If somebody offered us the silver medal before the start of the tournament, we had taken it, This moment I will remember my whole life.
Svetlana Ognjenovic, player Serbia: Brazil were the better team tonight. But I am glad that we won the silver medal. I only can say sorry to our fans that the medal is not made of gold. —- IHF