The Australia women’s team placed fifth at the 2018 Asian Women’s Handball Championship in Kumamoto, Japan, which also means successful qualification for the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship next December.
While the result at the event played from November 30 to December 9 is an outstanding team effort, there were also exceptional individual performances from two Australia players. Sally Potocki finished as the top scorer of the event with 57 goals, while Manon Vernay was the first-ranked goalkeeper with 76 saves at 34.4%.
Australia opened their campaign in Group A with a hard-fought match versus Kazakhstan, eventually conceding a 24:32 defeat after a level score of 15:15. A difficult game against hosts Japan followed, with Australia behind 8:19 at half-time and a final result of 18:37 – but the best was yet to come.
In round three, Australia celebrated their first win, 29:24 (12:11), versus Iran. A classic derby against New Zealand followed, with Australia taking a 28:12 (15:3) victory. The two wins were enough to secure third place in the group, which meant Australia qualified for the 5-8 placement matches. New Zealand finished fifth in Group A and went on to contest the 9/10 play-off.
Led by 13 goals from Potocki, Australia started strong in the 5-8 placement round, defeating India 31:27 after leading 16:13 at half-time. Emma Guignard (10 goals) top scored for Australia in the critical 5/6 placement match, which saw a repeat of the preliminary round result against Iran. Australia held a 13:12 advantage after the first 30 minutes and celebrated a 30:24 victory at the final whistle.
New Zealand were defeated by Singapore, 18:20, in the 9/10 match, after fighting their way back from a 5:10 half-time deficit.
The title went to record champions South Korea, who beat Japan 30:25 in an exciting final where the hosts held the upper hand at half-time. China claimed the bronze medal with a 27:21 win over Kazakhstan.
Australia will now prepare for the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship to be played in Japan from November 30 to December 15 next year. The other nations already qualified for the event are the hosts Japan, defending world champions France, and the South and Central American Championship teams Argentina and Brazil.
Photo: Jun Tanlayco