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Bucharest, March 14 /Agerpres/ - The fifth edition of the World Men's Handball Championship took place between March 6 ad March 15, 1964 in Czechoslovakia. Romania's team won the title on March 15, 1964 after defeating Sweden in the finals with a score of 25-22 and became world champions for the second time around.
The international activity of Romanian athletes in 1964 was dominated by the World Men's Handball Championship in Czechoslovakia where Romania had to defend its first title, won in 1961. In the competition in Czechoslovakia 16 teams participated, drawn into four groups in the preliminary group round after the qualifiers where 26 national teams around the world competed for a spot.
The Romanian tricolours' first game took place on March 5, 1964 on the Zimni Stadion, the famous sports arena in Pardubice with a capacity of 8,000 spectators. We meet the powerful Soviet team that we laboriously defeat by a two-goal difference, 16-14, after being led by one goal at half-time (7-8). The stakes were high in this match because the result mattered in the following round as well. The results from the preliminary round carried over to the semifinal round for the first two teams in each preliminary round who would qualify for the semifinal round. Romania lines up the following: Redl, goalkeeper, Ivanescu, Hnat, Moser, Iacob, Otelea, M Costache II, Nodea, Gruia and Ion Popescu. We start the game a bit on edge and we miss our first three attacks, hitting the goalposts or having our shots cleared. Consequently, we are led 0-2 in the eighth minute (Yushenko and Lebedev). We even things up in the tenth minute (Ivanescu and Moser) and we take the lead, 3-2, through the effort of Moser, who manages an impressive interception and puts our team on the counterattack. All this time, Redl puts on a good show of keeping out three shots from Lebedev and Zelenov, but is defeated by a seven-metre throw. The Soviets manage to score consecutively through Lebedev, Moser and Lebedev again. Redl however keeps out a seven-metre throw and Hnat puts in the equalizer through an evasion and dive to the left, a technique that will be later known around the world as the 'Hnat evasion.' The score is 7-7 and there are seconds spare until half-time, but Lebedev again (a 2 m, 95 kg colossus) thumps in the ball from a 10 metre distance. Half-time shows a score of 7-8. In the second period, the Romanian team play in a more organized way and after evening out at 8 takes a three-goal lead through Iacob, Moser and Nodea. Shortly after the score is 12-9 for Romania and there is a sigh of relief. Even though there were 7 minutes on the clock and we were leading by 3 goals, we find ourselves tied at 12. The boys get back in the game, concentrate and take the lead again 14-12 and hold onto it until full time, 16-14. Otelea and Moser score, twice each. It was the most important game in the preliminary round that made taking first place in the preliminary round possible as the matches with Norway (18-10) and Japan (36-12) were no particularly arduous challenge.
Taking first place in the preliminary Group D, our team was qualified for the Semifinal Group Round of the World Men's Handball Championship with 2 points and a 16-14 goal average. The standings in the preliminary Group D were the following: 1. Romania, 6 pts.; 2. USSR, 2 pts.; 3. Norway, 2 pts.; Japan, 2 pts. We were playing in Group B in the Semifinal Round with Czechoslovakia, the USSR and Denmark. In Group B the competitors were Sweden, the German Federal Republic (West Germany), Yugoslavia and Hungary.
Romania's fourth game in the Championships, in the semifinals against Denmark, does not pose a particular challenge. We defeat Denmark 25-15 after being led at half-time 5-7. The second half played out like a sort of goal recital for our team (20-8), the main goal scorers taking the stage were: Moser, 10, Nodea, 4, Otelea, 3 and goalkeeper Redl.
What followed was what was called by the Prague press as the 'true final': Romania-Czechoslovakia, a remake of the last World Championship's final in Dortmund (West Germany, 1961). This time we are playing in the semifinal in Prague in front of 18,000 spectators frenetically cheering on their favourites. In the stands a small contingent of Romanian supporters, no more than 50. It was a fierce match with 10 suspensions (5 on each side), 7 7-metre-throws and 6 game equalizers. We won, split at full-time by only one goal, 16-15, although we led the game especially in the second half, sometimes even by a three goal difference. Romania fielded goalkeepers Redl and Tale and players Ivanescu, Moser, Hnat, Nodea, Iacob, Otelea, Costache II, Gruia and Popescu. In the first seconds of the match, Moser gives our team a lead at 1-0, but Duda quickly rounds things up. Hnat takes Romania to a 2-1 advantage and marks the beginning of the Romanians' goal scoring furor. By minute 17 we are leading 8-3 (Ivanescu, twice Moser, Iacob, Costache I and Costache II). Havlik, Mares and Rada reduce the difference, 8-7, and by half-time Redl kept out Rada and Troian's efforts, Moser scored and the score over the break is 9-7 in our favour. The second period starts with Moser with a trademark shot 'from the hip' that goes in the net. Although for a short time we field 5 players and the Czechs 4 due to suspension, we do not just hold on to the ball, but attack and score through Iacob and Moser, 12-7, and then Hnat, 13-8. Duda, Ivanescu, Otelea, Duda again and Otelea once more take the score to 16-10 for Romania in the 48th minute of the game. The Czech players, experienced and empowered by 18,000 cheering fans, come back on the attack. With 10 minutes left to play, Redl manages an impressive save to a 7-metre throw, but the referee calls a repeat and Duda is unforgiving this time around, 16-11. We have a 5 goal lead and ten minutes left to play, the Czechs are frantically attacking, the crowd is turning the arena unbearable. The hosts reduce the difference, but we are still in control of the game and we win 16-15. We are in the finals! After a few moments of silence, the crowd applauds the Romanians' fair-play.
The standings after the semifinal matches were the following: 1. Romania, 6 pts. 2. Czechoslovakia, 4 pts.; 3. USSR, 2 pts.; 4. Denmark, 0 pts. The only undefeated team in the competition was the Romanian one.
The Romania-Sweden final, according to the press at that time, was 'a high class spectacle, both teams performing wonderfully, Romania winning however, being more confident in the late game' (Sport Tribune Berlin). 'Dramatic through the score evolution, with a jaw-clenching final, the game lacked in harshness and senseless rigidity, a splendid game. Congratulations to Romania's team, who earned this title! Congratulations to Sweden as well,' wrote Dagens Myhetr Stockholm.
In the same Sportovni Hala, with only 10,000 people in attendance (the hosts leaving the race for the world championship title), on March 15, 1964 the grand final began. And it began as most games for us with 1-0 in our favour (Ivanescu). Shortly after we got to 3-0 through Ivanescu again and then Moser in the fourth minute. By minute 16 it is already 10-6 for us. The match gets a little tougher. Jonsson reduces the difference, 10-8. Hnat signs off on his trademark evasion and dive, 11-8, Moser manages an even better throw 'from the hip.' Returning the favour, Jonsson scores goal after goal and so the score is tied 12-12. A respite before the break. Moser scores and immediately after him Costache II. The Swedes score another goal and we leave the field at half-time with a minimal advantage, 14-13. Immediately after resumption of play the score is rounded off, 14-14. Hnat receives a suspension and the Swedes put in a 7-metre throw and we are led 14-15, the moment only getting tougher when Moser misses his 7-metre throw. It is young Gruia's turn to intervene, coming onto the field only when the team is attacking. He does his job and scores. Costache II manages an interception and Moser scores. Costache II scores as well with a lobbed shot from the side that goes over defending goalkeeper Ringt, caught trying to close the shot angle. Hnat does another acrobatic evasion and the score is 18-16 and then 20-17. Nodea and Iacob again change the scoreboard, 22-20. There are six minutes left and by being sloppy in the attack we are equalized, 22-22. Coach Ioan Kunst-Ghermanescu tells his players to play to score, not play to stall while assistant Nedef collapses to his knees. Ivanescu manages to slide in a 20-25 cm corridor and scores, we take the lead, 23-22. Then comes goal 24: Hnat gives the appearance that he is floating parallel to the ground during his evasion-dive manoeuvre that takes us to 24-22. He ends the match with another trademark move: an evasive jump and shot. ROMANIA IS WORLD CHAMPION! For the second time in a row!
The joy, the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of years and years of labour was huge back then, both after the match in the arena, but also all over the country. At Baneasa airport, nearly 3,000 people wait for the champions cheering and holding flowers.
The results recorded by Romania in the World Men's Handball Championship of 1964: Romania-USSR, 16-14 (7-8) in the preliminary round, Romania-Norway, 18-10 (11-7) in the preliminary round, Romania-Japan, 36-12 (16-7) in the preliminary round, Romania-Czechoslovakia, 16-15 (9-7) in the semifinal round, Romania- Denmark, 25-15 (5-7) in the semifinal round, Romania-Sweden, 25-22 (14-13) in the final. Championship stats: 6 games, 6 wins, 136-88 goal average. First place. Final standings: 1. Romania, 2. Sweden, 3. Czechoslovakia, 4. West Germany, 5. USSR, 6. Yugoslavia, 7. Denmark, 8. Hungary, 9. Iceland, 10. East Germany, 11. Norway, 12. Switzerland, 13. France, 14. Egypt, 15. United States of America, 16. Japan.
Romania's team: Mihai Redl (Dinamo Bucuresti), Virgil Tale (Stiinta Bucuresti), Ion Bogolea (Dinamo Bucuresti), goalkeepers; Petre Ivanescu (Dinamo Bucuresti), Olimpiu Nodea (Steaua Bucuresti), Virgil Hnat (Dinamo Bucuresti), Hans Moser (Dinamo Bucuresti), Aurel Bulgariu (Steaua Bucuresti), Cornel Otelea (Steaua Bucuresti), Mircea Costache I (Dinamo Bucuresti), Mircea Costache II (Dinamo Bucuresti), Ion Popescu (Teleajen Ploiesti), Gheorghe Gruia (Steaua Bucuresti), Iosif Iacob (Steaua Bucuresti), Nica Cezar (Dinamo). Coaches: Ioan Kunst-Ghermanescu, Nicolae Nedef, Eugen Trofin. World Championship top scorer: Hans Moser, 33 goals. AGERPRES.
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