The team of Romania
Coach: Gheorghe Tadici
Key players: Sorina-Maria Tirca (left back)
Qualification information: European qualification tournaments – Group 2 winners
History in tournament: 1977: 3rd, 1979-1983: DNQ, 1985: 7th, 1987-1989: DNQ, 1991: 5th, 1993: 5th, 1995: 1st, 1997: 3rd, 1999: 1st, 2001: 5th, 2003: 11th, 2005: DNQ, 2008: 10th, 2010: DNQ, 2012: 13th, 2014: 5th, 2016: 3rd
It seems something of a trend in Romania national women’s teams to count on a strong squad led by one stand-out attacker. In the senior team, it is three-time World Handball Player of the Year Cristina Neagu. In the 2016 Junior World Championship bronze medal-winning squad, it was Cristina Laslo. In the Hungary 2018 line-up, it is another back-court player: Sorina-Maria Tirca.
The left back was the top scorer at last year’s Under 19 European championship (56 goals), where Romania ranked ninth, and finished as second top scorer at the 2016 Youth World Championship (66 goals). Tirca was also the second top scorer of the European qualification tournaments for Hungary 2018, when Romania secured their World Championship ticket as winners of Group 2, beating Croatia, Ukraine and Georgia.
Tirca will clearly be a crucial part of Romania’s campaign at Hungary 2018 – but will her strength be enough to inspire the entire team to repeat the success of their predecessors, who won the bronze medal two years ago in Moscow? Considering the current Romania Junior squad ranked 14th at the 2016 Youth World Championship, it appears they are in for a tough challenge on the path to the podium.
In the group phase, Romania will take on defending champions Denmark, the Netherlands, Angola, Japan and Paraguay – teams representing four different continents. The varied playing styles brought by sides from other continents can often present quite a challenge to young European teams, who do not have so much experience playing against attack or defensive systems they are not used to. If Romania can master the tactical challenge, they should be able to clinch one of Group C’s four places in the knock-out rounds.
In terms of history against their preliminary round opponents, it was Denmark who ended Romania’s dream at Slovakia 2016, with a 30:29 victory in an extra-time eighth-final. Prior to the knock-out matches, Romania took two wins in the group phase – versus Kazakhstan and their Hungary 2018 opponents Paraguay – and were defeated by bronze medalists Republic of Korea, fourth place finishers Norway, and current Under 19 European champions France.
Group at Hungary 2018:
Group C: Romania, Denmark, Netherlands, Angola, Japan, Paraguay
Games at Hungary 2018:
All times local
Monday 2 July: ROU-JPN (14:00)
Wednesday 4 July: PAR-ROU (16:00)
Thursday 5 July: NED-ROU (18:00)
Saturday 7 July: ROU-DEN (15:30)
Sunday 8 July: ROU-ANG (18:00)