Unified handball team is 0 for 4 at world championship

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Unified handball team is 0 for 4 at world championship

The unified Korean handball team suffered its fourth straight loss at the 2019 International Handball Federation (IHF) World Men’s Handball Championship, losing 29-31 to Serbia at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Tuesday.


The unified Korean men’s handball team, in black, competes against Serbia during their Group A match at the Intrenational Handball Federation World Men’s Handball Championship at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Tuesday. [AFP/YONHAP]

Korea got off to a quick start, taking a 5-2 lead and keeping that three-point buffer until 13 minutes into the second half. However, while Korea was leading 22-19, the players failed to keep themselves focused and allowed Serbia to take the lead back in the last seven minutes of the game.

Korea substituted Kang Tan, who led Korea’s offense against France, for a last minute spurt, but failed to overcome the deficit. Despite the loss, Kang Jeon-gu was named MVP as the highest scorer, with 12 points.

With Korea’s fourth straight loss, the unified team failed to advance to the main round. However, they showed improvement after each game.

While Park Kwang-soon and Kang Tan were the top performers in Korea’s first two games against Russia and France, it was goalkeeper Park Jae-yong that stood out against Serbia, making 14 saves throughout the game.

South Korea is ranked 19th in the world ranking while North Korea is not ranked. This is the first unified Korea men’s handball team to compete at the IHF World Men’s Handball Championship.

Korea will play its last game against 27th ranked Brazil tonight at 11:30 p.m. As Brazil is currently ranked fourth in Group C, with two wins and two losses, they have to win against Korea to have a shot at advancing to the main round.

After the round robin, the top three teams from each of the four groups will advance to the main round. Those 12 teams will then be divided into two groups of six, and the top two teams from each group will move on to the semifinals.

South Korea failed to qualify for the past two world championships in 2015 and 2017, and finished 21st in 2013. Since South Korea first played at the World Championship in 1986, the country has competed 11 times. South Korea had its best finish in 1997, at eighth.

The World Men’s Handball Championship was first held in 1938 and European countries have always dominated the tournament. France has won the most titles, six, and Sweden has won the most medals, 11.

BY AN HEE-SOO, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]
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