Women’s handball coach Henk Groener said he was ‘incredibly proud’ of his players as they claimed a surprise runner’s-up spot at the world championships on Sunday.
The Dutch team started the final as firm underdogs against world and European champions Norway and saw their chances evaporate by half-time, at which point the Norwegians led 20-9. The Netherlands rallied in the second half but their opponents held on comfortably to win 31-23.
‘Five years ago when we lats played in the European Championships it was 18-9 to Norway at half-time and it ended up 35-13,’ said Groener. ‘This time they matched them point for point after half-time. I’m incredibly proud of the girls.’
Team captain Danick Snelder said the players were hampered by nerves in the first half: ‘I’m massively proud of what we’ve achieved, but you could see we spent half the game on wobbly legs. You can’t do that for 30 minutes.’
The team’s next goal is to reach next summer’s Olympic tournament in Rio. They face France, Japan and Tunisia in their qualifying group.
‘We’ve played a tremendous tournament and put handball on the map in the Netherlands,’ said Groener. ‘This team needs to go to Rio.’
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