2018 begins with an important event for Australian handball, as the men’s national team prepare to make their debut at the Asian Men’s Championship in January. The 18th Asian Men’s Championship will be held in Suwon, South Korea, and for the first time will see teams from the Oceania region competing after the qualification pathway for the IHF Men’s World Championship was redefined in 2015.
23 days ago Australia players Sebastien Traverso and Thomas Gerstch created a Go Fund Me campaign in the hope of raising money to subsidise the costs for athletes travelling to the Asian Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Qatar in November.
At the time of creating the page, costs per player were estimated at $6,000, including flights, Tier 1 accommodation, to which Australia was automatically allocated, and the necessary playing gear for the tournament. Costs have now been reduced to $4,000 per player.
Australia drew with the eventual winners of the IHF Emerging Nations Men’s Championship, the Faroe Islands, recorded a big win against Armenia and finished with their only loss of the group phase against hosts Kosovo, but it was not enough to earn a spot in the qualification phase.
Instead the team took to the court for three placement matches, which saw Australia emerge victorious after facing Albania, a tough loss in the highly anticipated match against Great Britain, and finally a tense game against Bulgaria that ended with a penalty shootout.
Australia took their first two points of the IHF Emerging Nations Championship with a decisive victory over Armenia on Monday.
Australia vs Armenia 61:20 (28:9)
Australia had a mission to score as many goals as possible on Monday, as the team could still qualify for the second phase if Kosovo beat Faroe Islands in the second match of the evening.
Coach Jan Ottosen approached the game with this in mind:
In their second IHF Emerging Nations Men’s Championship match Australia lost to Group B leaders Kosovo.
Kosovo vs Australia 31:24 (16:12)
Kosovo took command of the game immediately, making it clear early on that Australia would have a tough physical match on their hands.
At half-time the home side were in front by four goals, and they followed with a strong half that saw Kosovo finish with a seven-goal victory.
Australia will take to the court for the first time in an official competition since the team’s spot for the 24th Men’s World Handball Championship in Qatar was reallocated to Germany.
Kosovo has been named as host country for the upcoming IHF Emerging Nations Tournament, which will take place between 18th and 26th June (exact dates and draw within this timeframe are currently being finalised).
The Emerging Nations Tournament will see Australia compete against 19 other nations for the title.
The Australian Men's national team qualified for their eighth consecutive World Championship, defeating New Zealand, over two games, last weekend in Auckland.
The Aussies have now only seven months to prepare for the next major challenge, against the World’s best national teams in Doha, Qatar.
Coach Jan Ottosen is hoping to improve on the team’s results at the 2013 World Championship in Spain, and secure an all elusive win for the Aussies. Australia has not won a game at a World Championship event, since defeating Greenland, in Portugal, in 2013.
The Australia's Men's team had a final preparation match yesterday, against Sydney University, ahead of the World Championship qualifications for the Oceania region, in New Zealand, on 25 April.
The National team had gathered in Sydney for a final camp, before the tournament, this weekend
The match was a good opportunity for coach Jan Ottesen to test his squad ahead of the trip in ten days. Jan has been in Australia the last few weeks preparing the team.