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Intermediate sprint prevents Madrid from defeat

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Thanks to a strong 15 minutes in the middle of the second half, Atletico Madrid became winner of group A at the IHF Super Globe in Doha. But their success against the strong Egyptian team Zamalek in their final preliminary round match was on the edge for a long time, as intermediately Zamalek was in lead by six goals. Atletico will face now IHF Super Globe host Al-Sadd (QAT) in the semifinal on Friday 31 August, while Zamalek play against the defending champions THW Kiel (GER) in the second semi. Last year Zamalek had finished fourth in Doha. And like in their previous matches the African club champion stood strong against a powerful opponent.

Both teams had been qualified for the semifinals already before this match.

Atletico Madrid - Zamalek 29:25 (12:15)

Before the break Zamalek continued on the same high level, which the Egyptians had shown on Tuesday evening by beating El-Jeish. Madrid was neither strong in attack, nor in defence - and could not rudimentarily show their usual performance. Zamalek took the profit, as they were easily able to break through the Spanish defence and to extend the margin from 8:8 to 12:9, as Atletico missed a series of chances in this period or caused unexpected many easy errors. The three goals trail for the Spanish lasted until the break though coach Talant Dushebajew already had taken two time-outs. And the downswing became even worse in the starting phase of the second half: Pushed by their spectators and "invited" by the Spanish defence, Zamalek got away to 18:12, scored by Mostafa Al-Ahmir – and was highly close to a real big sensation. But from that moment on Atletico took the match serious, recognizing that they did not want to face THW Kiel in their semifinal. First the last season's IHF Super Globe finalist equalized at 21:21 and then finished their extra-ordinary series of 13:3 goals in only 14 minutes by the 25:21 in minute 47. When Zamalek came close at 24:27, Madrid took their third time-out, which caused a decisive double strike to 29:24.
Before that top scorer Ahmed Mostafa had imprinted the match with in total eleven goals. On the other side either the six fast-break goals of David Davis were as same decisive as the overall seven goals of Kiril Lazarow.

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Statements after the match:

Tarek Lofti, coach Zamalek:

Atletico is a great team, as we know the Spanish handball school is a leading one. But we were up with them or even better than Madrid until minute 40, when we were in lead clearly. But then we were short with players for nearly 12 minutes, so we were not able to keep up with Madrid in this crucial period.

Mohamed Ahmed Hesham, player Zamalek:

We were in lead by six goals, but because of some suspensions we could not go on like this in the rest of the match. As we were suspended from the Egyptian league for eight months, this tournament was a re-start for us – and in my opinion we played well by now.

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Talant Dushebajev, coach Atletico Madrid:

I am satisfied to finish the group first and to have beaten a strong team like Zamalek, which is nearly identical with the Egypt national team. In the second half we improved in defence, and when we had more players on the field due to the Zamalek suspensions, we could start our decisive counter-attacks. This match was a great opportunity to prepare against a strong opponent. But the semifinal against Al-Sadd will even be harder. They have Olympic champions in their well-rehearsed team, they can count on their improving players from Montpellier. It will be difficult to win, but it is another good chance to integrate our new players.

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David Davis, player Atletico Madrid:

We had to prepare well to be able to beat Zamelek. It is a great challenge for us to play with that team at the IHF Super Globe, as always we have to give all to beat the Egyptians. But by giving 100% we won this game.