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Olympic Champions France Squeeze Past Angola

African champions Angola gave France coach Olivier Krumbholz a shock in the first match of his final IHF Women’s World Championship, pushing his side all the way in their Group D opener, before falling short with the last play of the match.

Group D
France vs Angola 30:29 (18:15)

In the end, it was the width of a post which helped Olympic champions France get off to a winning start in Stavanger in a competition they will be desperate to win for their coach, who has announced his retirement after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The multiple gold-medal winning Krumbholz will have nightmares about his side’s wastefulness – they ended up scoring just 10 of their 17 fastbreaks and turning the ball over 17 times.

Angola started off the better of the two teams, with France’s mistakes the difference, rather than the Angolan striking threat in the early moments.

It took until the 16th minute for the 2017 world championship-winning French to come back level (9:9) as their bank of stars, including Tamara Horacek and Alicia Toublanc desperately tried to calibrate their shooting sights which had been out of focus.

A 5:0 scoring run saw the Europeans go 14:11 up from 9:11 down (18th – 23rd minute) but Angola came back again, bringing it to 14:13 with less than five minutes remaining, despite Krumbholz’s pleas for his side to step up in a time out (“now is the time to act”).

Angola’s 13 turnovers at the half and France’s three saves showed the scrappy nature of the match, but it was exciting for those watching inside the DNB Arena.

By the 40th minute, and despite the introduction of France captain Grace Zaadi Duena, Angola were still within one (20:21).

Whether it was the presence of Duena on court or just bad luck, Angola had numerous opportunities to bring the game level at this point but wasted them all with Stelvia Pascoal, Albertina Kassoma, Juliana Machado and Helena Paulo all failing to use the ball wisely in their quartet of attacks, gifted to them by four French turnovers.

By the 50th minute France had pulled away again (27:22) and a lesser team would have crumbled, but led by captain Isabel Guialo – who scored some sensational individual goals – Angola came back to equalise twice (28:28, 29:29) and could have even thought about going ahead.

A Laura Flippes strike under pressure put the French ahead (30:29) and this was immediately followed by a time out from Angola with 20 seconds remaining of the 60 minutes. 

A well-worked play saw the ball fall to Guialo, but this time, the post was in the way, the ball stayed out and French hearts could rest.

Source : IHF