Tuesday night fell in the town of Kumamoto (Japan) while the Spanish women's handball team was looking for a restaurant to dine. There, Las Guerreras gathered around a laptop to watch the match between Montenegro and Sweden, key to get the pass to the semifinals of the World Cup. So it was. The victory of Montenegro (26-23) gave the team led by Carlos Viver a ticket for Friday's duel (12.30 pm, Teledeporte) with Norway.
"We have lived the game of Montenegro with a lot of nerves," Nerea Pena tells ELMUNDO from his hotel room, already at dawn. She and Silvia Navarro are the only two survivors of the last semifinal that Spain reached in a World Cup, back in 2011. "We did not expect the championship to develop in this way, it is a dream for us to reach the semifinal," says the Hungarian Ferencvárosi player.
And it is that the national team had been annihilated hours earlier by Russia (26-36) and his ticket for the qualifiers depended on a defeat of Sweden with Montenegro. Something, as they recognized from the same delegation, "very complicated." But it happened. The Balkan team signed the machada and the Spanish team celebrated their classification in a big way. Jumps, hugs, chants ... All this in a restaurant where the people present perplexedly watched the party, immortalizing everything with their mobile phones.
An adversary in progression
Now the opponent will be Norway, which accumulates a baggage of five wins and one defeat. His level in this championship has clearly been on the rise, despite not showing an overwhelming game. "They do not arrive at their best and we have to take advantage of it," says Pena, who missed the most important success of the Spanish women's handball, bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, from a serious injury to her right knee. «The initial objective, the Pre-Olympic, is already achieved and now we want to continue dreaming; For us this semifinal is like a final, we have to try to win anyway to get the jackpot, ”explains Navarra.
Silvia Navarro, the other survivor of the golden generation that marked the beginning of the nickname Las Guerreras, will play her third semifinal of a world championship. At 40, the goalkeeper continues to be the undisputed defender of the Spanish goal. Last season, at Rocasa Gran Canaria, she was chosen as the best player in the Iberdrola League. "We want to be in the Pre-Olympic, but we will go for everything," the goalkeeper predicted in this newspaper before leaving for Japan.
Both lived in first person that tragic semifinal of the World Cup in Brazil 2011, where they fell defeated against the same rival, Norway, which was later proclaimed world champion. That title, together with those of 1999 and 2015, complete his record. "It has been a rush to get here, but we are not satisfied," warns Nerea Pena. Caught the first goal, reaching the final is no longer science fiction.
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