Norway’s once nearly unbeatable women’s handball team was all but crushed by their rivals from Romania in the European Championships in Brest, France on Wednesday night. Fans back home were worrying on Thursday whether their team would make it into the semi-finals.
The popular so-called håndball jentene (handball girls) lost by a shocking eight points (31-23) and were deeply disappointed. Coach Thorir Hergeirsson admitted that 31 goals “were far too many to allow,” but he still claimed he had “a good team” that had to be at their very best in order to beat Romania. They weren’t, and he called the Romanians’ victory “well-deserved.”
State broadcaster NRK’s handball commentator Kenneth Gabrielsen called the match a “nightmare” and claimed the Norwegian women “were simply eaten up.” Several agreed, with player Heidi Løke claiming that “we didn’t even come close” and failed to “hang together” on defense. “We just weren’t good enough,” she said, but vowed to “do something about that.”
With two losses and only one victory so far, Norway was only in third place in its group heading into further play. The Norwegian women won the last European Championships in 2016 and have been favoured for gold again this year, along with host nation France.