Cairo – Slovenia made their first step towards the quarter-finals at the World Men’s Handball Championship in Egypt with a convincing 10-goal win against North Macedonia in the first match of the main round on Wednesday.
North Macedonia, who were last-minute replacement for the Czech Republic at the tournament, were a match for the Slovenians only in the first phase of the game, with Slovenia separating themselves towards the end of the first half (13:9).
Slovenia needed only ten minutes in the second half to take a nine-goal lead (21:12), from which the Macedonians never recovered. Slovenia were also able to save a lot of energy for the remaining matches at the tournament.
The top scorer in Slovenia’s ranks was Dragan Gajić with seven goals, followed by Jure Dolenec and Borut Mačkovšek with five goals each, but the hero of the match was goalkeeper Urban Lesjak, who was declared the player of the match.
The true challenge for Slovenia is only to come as they play the group-leading Sweden on Friday, before they wrap up the main round against the hosts Egypt on Sunday. The top two teams from the six-team group advance to the quarter-finals.
Lesjak told reporters that “simply, we need to win all three matches if we want to make it to the final eight,” adding that Slovenia was capable of beating the favoured Sweden, as they would also have more time to recuperate.
Right back Nejc Cehte praised the defence, with Lesjak as the leader, for being at a good level and enabling the team to score a few easy goals that led the team to the deserved win.
“There was some nervousness at the beginning. We needed some time to get into the right rhythm. We will take one game at a time, Sweden is next in line,” Cehte added confidently for RTV Slovenija reporters.