Handball: Team GB men thumped yet again and left eliminated from competition

 

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The Independent Online

Great Britain's men endured another torrid outing in the Copper Box as Tunisia handed out a beating in their Group A clash that sent the host nation crashing out.

Although Dragan Djukic's side have played their part in thrusting handball upon an unsuspecting British public, this loss follows hot on the heels of thrashings at the hands of reigning Olympic champions France, three-time silver medallists Sweden and Pan-American champions Argentina.

Given their infancy as a handballing nation, it is no surprise that Team GB have had such a hard time of it against teams who were winning medals long before they were even formed.

And the gulf in class was clear to seen this morning, though the way GB fought until the end deserves some credit and a flourish in the final throes of the first half gives optimism for the future.

Five goals from Sebastian Edgar and the continued form of goalkeeper Jesper Parker were other bright spots for the hosts.

After publicly targeting a win against Argentina in their last outing, Djukic was keen to rein his side's expectations back in before the match and the reason was evident from early on as Tunisia took a 4-1 lead after eight minutes.

That need not have been the case, though, as Chris McDermott, who received two two-minute suspensions in the first six minutes, opened the scoring and a host of early Team GB efforts were missed when they should have been scored.

Indeed, they only converted two of their first nine efforts on goal and that allowed Tunisia to take advantage with three back-to-back strikes, earning a 7-2 lead just before the midway point of the first half.

John Pearce ended that run with a nice finish from the wing, but three more goals from the Africans sent them 10-3 up and even at that early stage, that cushion was always going to be unassailable.

While a long morning was looking on the cards, goals from Sebastian Prieto and Gawain Vincent gave the home crowd something to cheer about and formed part of a four-minute spell that saw Team GB score four out of the next five goals, to bring their deficit down to 14-8 at the break.

However, that energy could not be renewed after the interval, and after Prieto missed a penalty, Tunisia scored five of the next seven goals to snuff out any hopes of a comeback.

In fact, a golden spell for the Africans put an unpleasant look on the scoreboard as a host of fast breaks and five unanswered goals gave them a 13-goal cushion, undoing all the good work from Team GB at the end of the first period.

One thing that cannot be levelled at Djukic's side is a lack of desire or fight, though, and despite Tunisia continuing to enjoy free reign in attack, Steven Larsson threw in a seven-metre effort which received a cheer as loud as the first from the unwavering home support.

Other goals from Edgar and Martin Hare went in as Team GB battled bravely, but they just could not compete with a strong Tunisia, who put themselves in with the chance of a quarter-final spot, thanks largely to 10 goals from Aymen Toumi.

Team GB complete their Group A campaign against reigning silver medallists Iceland on Monday, while they can take pride in the way they have helped spread the handball word over the last week.

PA

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