Pal Merkovszky's dream came true - 24:22 against Belgium.

"We wanted to show that we can defeat a European team," said the goalkeeper, "we did it.

It's time for us to celebrate.” The goalkeeper with the Hungarian name plays for the American national team in “Team Handball”.

Born in 2000 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, he makes his money as a professional in Gyöngyös and also holds a Hungarian passport.

America managed to qualify for the Handball World Championship in Poland and Sweden against Greenland.

Here Merkovszky felt like celebrating twice: First, the Americans won against Morocco and reached the main round.

Then came the victory over Belgium on Monday.

That could safely be called historical: since the first participation in 1964, the Americans had lost all 25 World Cup games.

It's easy to scoff at encounters like Chile versus Saudi Arabia or America versus Belgium.

The "Europe" label attached to them makes them an established adversary only from an American perspective.

But if you ask Robert Hedin, the Swede who has been training the Americans since 2018, there are words of praise for the development aid of the world association IHF: "It is precisely through the games against strong opponents that we can develop further." The main round game on Saturday against Denmark in front of 12,482 people in Malmö was a reward - especially since the Americans presented themselves as defensive opponents at 24:33.

This path should continue in 2025 and 2027.

The IHF then lets them compete in the world title fights without qualifying to promote American handball with a view to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

It is the second World Cup with 32 participating nations.

To ensure that the bottom eight of the group have more than just three appearances, they have been playing out places 25 to 32 in the “President's Cup” in Plock since January 18th.

The consolation round in front of empty seats is Hassan Moustafa's lobbying work.

The Egyptian IHF President wants to keep as many member federations as possible and gives them valuable games - handball is to take place in Africa, South America, the Middle and Middle East so as not to appear as a purely European sport and risk Olympic status.

It regularly washes non-European countries into the top of the world;

sometimes Tunisia, sometimes South Korea, sometimes Qatar and now Egypt.

However, their success was never particularly sustainable.

The development leads to devalued continental competitions - the fifth of the championship there from Africa still takes part;

in this case it was Algeria.

A welcome opponent for the Germans at 37:21 to get in the mood for the main round, but not a real test.

Well-known professionals like Luka Cindrić (Croatia) also criticized results of this kind.

"Wins with plus ten goals don't look good for our sport," said Cindrić after his team's 36:24 against Morocco.

Uruguay's path to this World Cup was also curious: only seven nations competed in the tournament in Recife.

Uruguay suffered heavy defeats against Brazil, Argentina and Chile, but defeated Bolivia.

That was enough, because South America is sending four participants to the World Cup.

Uruguay's 12-47 group stage loss against Sweden was the tournament's heaviest loss and now represents the absurd side of the rebound.

The President's Cup was similarly unsuccessful: On Wednesday Uruguay lost 33:34 in the match for 31st place against Algeria.

This World Cup with its 112 games had found the last and penultimate of the ranking.