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France, Sweden reach Oly handball final
09:59 AEST Sat Aug 11 2012

France is one victory away from retaining its Olympic handball title.

In Sunday's final, the 2008 champions will take on Sweden, which gets a fourth chance to finally win the gold medal after finishing runner-up three times in a row between 1992 and 2000.

France defeated 2004 champion Croatia 25-22 in Friday's semi-final between two pre-tournament favourites, thanks to four goals each by Luc Abalo, Daniel Narcisse and Samuel Honrubia. In the first semi-final, Sweden edged Hungary 27-26.

"It will be a very interesting game," France captain Jerome Fernandez said. "It will be a tough fight as we have very different playing styles."

France, the current world champion, will start as the favourites, but Fernandez warned his team not to underestimate Sweden.

"They are in the final and they deserve it," the left back said.

France took a 5-1 lead in the first 10 minutes as Croatia missed 10 of its first 11 shots, mainly because of outstanding goalkeeping by Thierry Omeyer.

France was 12-10 ahead at halftime and held on to its lead throughout the match, despite Croatia having more shots on goal, 47-41.

"Incredible, so many chances in the first 20 minutes," Croatia pivot Igor Vori said.

"We didn't find to our usual game," Croatia left back Blazenko Lackovic said. "We didn't play like we have done the whole tournament. It's hard to have lost so many important games against France."

Croatia was also beaten by France in the semi-finals in Beijing four years ago by an almost identical score, 25-23. Then defending champion Croatia went on to lose the bronze-medal match against Spain.

Sweden coach Staffan Olsson was delighted after leading his team to the final by defeating Hungary.

"It's a fantastic feeling," Olsson said. "After this game, we will celebrate a bit. I know we have a very good team, but I have not thought about the final yet."

Captain Tobias Karlsson said Sweden got the reward for putting in the hard work in training.

"I am very satisfied and proud of what we've done with this team," Karlsson said. "We were deep down after a bad qualification in June. We have done hard work and are really proud to be in the final."

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Opening Ceremony
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Handball
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Synchro
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Closing ceremony
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