In a thrilling match at the Handball World Championship, Poland emerged victorious against Japan with a final score of 32-30 (15-15) in their second game of the tournament. The championship, co-hosted by Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, showcased Poland’s prowess in a nail-biting encounter.
Assistant coach Adrian Struzik, under the guidance of Norwegian head coach Arne Senstada, emphasized the importance of a robust defense and counterattacks to secure a favorable outcome against their agile opponents. In a strategic move, Poland introduced playmaker Aleksandra Zimny and winger Mariola Wiertelak into the lineup, replacing right-back Paulina Masna and pivot Nikola Głębocka.
Facing a Japanese team with only two players, Naoko Sahara and Mika Nagata, standing at least 180 cm tall, forced Japanese coach Shigeo Kusumoto to adopt a specific tactic. The Polish team executed successful counters early on, with Dagmara Nocuń scoring. Haruno Sasaki responded with two penalty shots, giving Japan a slight advantage. However, Marlena Urbańska, exploiting her physical prowess, consistently narrowed the gap for Poland.
As the first quarter progressed, Monika Kobylińska’s effective finishes leveled the playing field. After Nocuń’s counter, Poland regained the lead. Unfortunately, another injury struck the Polish side, with playmaker Aleksandra Rosiak joining Karolina Kochaniak-Sala on the sidelines. Kochaniak-Sala was forced out of the game by the medical staff. Kobylińska played a stellar role, securing an 11-9 lead with her fifth goal.
Despite the relentless efforts of Japan, Natsuki Aizawa brought the score level. Shortly afterward, Japan briefly took the lead, only to have Poland reclaim it moments later. The final minutes of the first half witnessed errors on both sides, resulting in 12 turnovers each.
Poland started the second half strong, with Adrianna Górna scoring from the right wing and goalkeeper Płaczek saving a 7-meter throw. The scoreboard frequently displayed a tie in the following minutes. Rosiak’s health proved not to be a significant concern, as she contributed crucial goals. Daria Michalak’s goal from the left wing reestablished Poland’s three-goal lead (24-21). Taking a risk, Japan introduced a seventh outfield player at the expense of the goalkeeper.
Kobylińska, with an impressive 9 out of 10 conversion rate, and goalkeeper Płaczek, saving five penalty shots, played key roles. However, a momentary lapse allowed Japan to regain the lead (27-26). The pendulum of victory swung back to the Polish side, thanks to a resilient effort in the thrilling final moments.
In a wise and efficient display, Poland secured the win. Kobylińska, scoring her 11th goal, sealed the victory. While it seemed that the captain or Płaczek would be named MVP, the honor surprisingly went to Haruno Sasaki.
On Monday, Poland will face Germany at 20:30 in a bid for the top spot in the group, concluding the first phase of the tournament.