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Three times world champion Russia seek to enter final at Beijing Olympic women's handball
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15:45, August 20, 2008

After muscling out France in a thrilling two-overtime quarterfinal, three times world titlist Russia seek to beat Hungary on Thursday to reach the final of Beijing Olympic women's handball event.

"Women are mysterious," that was what Russian coach Evgeny Trefilov complained about his team's inconsistency after a preliminary game.

It is true. The Russian handball team is unpredictable. Winning three world titles in 2001, 2005 and 2007, they never managed to book a ticket in the Olympic Games.

Moreover, the Russian squad remained inconsistent in Beijing, with their matches often featured an ill-form half time.

In their opening game against South Korea, Russia enjoyed a comfortable nine points lead midway in the second half. But the world titlist suffered a nightmare in the final quarter of the game, with all the advantage nibbled and both sides tied 29-29 in the end.

In yesterday's quarterfinal, Russia also suffered an early setback, trailing France, fifth placer in 2007 World Champiponship, with a four points deficit in the first half. Luckily the Russians regained their tempi in time to even the score after the break and upset the opponent in the second extra time.

In Thursday's semifinal, Russia will take on Hungary, a team that they trounced 33-24 in the round-robin stage.

But Trefilov's side will not enjoy an easy game, because the Hungarians posed great trouble to them in their previous encounter, only lagging behind with one point in the first half.

European champ Norway and South Korea, runner-up at Athens Games, will fight for the other final berth. Both teams had pinned their hope on the gold, but the Asians held a higher profile.

"I still feel regretful to lose the title to Denmark in Athens four years ago. Our aim in Beijing is still the gold medal. Currently, our players are all in a solid form. We will try our best to bring the gold back to our country," said South Korean pivot Huh Soon-young, who received a silver in the Athens Games.


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