Iceland sweat, while European teams throw off Germany/Greece 2023 with a bang

20 Jun. 2023

Iceland sweat, while European teams throw off Germany/Greece 2023 with a bang

All four European sides throwing off the 24th IHF Men’s Junior World Championship in Germany and Greece sealed wins in their maiden games, yet Iceland narrowly avoided a huge surprise.

In one of the lowest-scoring games in the last decades in the competition, the European side eventually took a nail-biting 17:15 win against Morocco, ending the game with a 3:0 run, which proved decisive.

Portugal, the Faroe Islands and Slovenia all went big in their first matches, with Slovenia even beating their record for the number of goals scored in a single game in the competition, taking a 48:23 win against Greenland.

  • Group C

Portugal vs Kuwait 35:21 (18:11)

Portugal were severely hampered by the absence of stars Francisco and Martim Mota da Costa for this tournament, yet they still were considered one of the top teams in the competition due to finishing second at the M20 EHF EURO 2022 last summer.

The European side still had some of their stars in the team, including André Sousa, who took over the game in the second part of the first half, scoring four times to lift his side to an 18:11 lead at the break.

Yet Kuwait still remained in the hunt, with goalkeeper Ahmad Aljuwaieed making seven saves in the first half, as the Asian side managed to hold the gap close (18:11) at the break.

While the Asian side cut the gap to only six goals at the start of the second half, 19:13, Portugal went on an 11:1 run spinning between the 31st and the 42nd minute to put the game to bed, with Sousa and Pedro Oliveira leading the charge, with 11 goals between them.

It was not a record for the number of goals scored by Portugal, but the European side still had one of their best-attacking performances since putting 49 goals past Canada at Greece 2011, running away with a big win in this game, 35:21, with goalkeeper Diogo Marques shining with 12 saves for a 50% saving efficiency.

On the other hand, Kuwait failed to secure their first win in the competition since Bosnia Herzegovina 2013 but might have better chances, especially on Friday, when they face Costa Rica.

hummel Player of the Match: Joao Gomes (Portugal)

  • Group D

Faroe Islands vs Angola 34:21 (18:8)

The Faroe Islands were considered one of the dark horses at Germany/Greece 2023, and the first half against Angola duly confirmed that status, as their top players really were outstanding in creating a huge gap after only 30 minutes (18:8).

Elias Ellefsen Á Skipagotu scored six times, while Hákun West Av Teigum added five more, with Angola scoring their first goal after seven minutes and 35 seconds. By that time, the European side was already five goals up. Therefore it proved to be impossible for Angola to bounce back.

With 13 saves and an amazing 61% saving efficiency, goalkeeper Pauli Jacobsen was another reason for the Faroe Islands’ big advantage, constantly frustrating Angola even in one-on-one situations, with six saves and a penalty facing the opponents in these moments.

There was nothing that Angola could do to improve their performance in the second half, despite the Faroe Islands replacing their starters, as the European side cruised to their largest-ever win in history at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship and only their third one in the competition, after the ones against Chile and the Republic of Korea at Algeria 2017.

The 34:21 scoreline might look harsh for Angola, but it really reflects the game, with the Faroe Islands now becoming big favourites to progress to the main round, ahead of their games against Japan and reigning European champions Spain in Group D in Magdeburg.

hummel Player of the Match: Elias Ellefsen Á Skipagotu (Faroe Islands)


Faroe Islands vs Angola



  • Group G 

Iceland vs Morocco 17:15 (7:5)

The opening Group G match proved to be extremely tight. Morocco should be credited for fighting hard, but ultimately, Iceland claimed two points. 

The European side looked confident at the start of the match, as a couple of goals by Andri Mar Runarsson and saves by Adam Thorstensen powered them to a 3:0 lead six minutes into the game.

However, Morocco woke up and stopped their European rivals from scoring in the following 11 and a half minutes. Their goalkeeper Youssef El Mouaddar also made several saves, helping the Africans draw level at 3:3.

Iceland's timeout helped them to pull ahead again, 7:4 by minute 26. Both teams then missed some chances before Morocco's Younes Ouzrour converted his third 7m shot in the game, slashing the gap to 5:7 at half-time. 

Goals were few and far between in the opening half, as both teams struggled in attack, and the goalkeepers were their best players. However, the picture was different early in the second half, as the rivals scored seven goals combined by minute 37.

Iceland were still in front, 11:8, but their African rivals did not give up. El Mouaddar, who finished the game with 13 saves and a 43% saving efficiency, stopped several balls again, including a couple of penalty shots, and after a long chase, Morocco drew level at 13:13 with 11 minutes to go. 

In minute 58, the Africans even took their first lead in the game, 15:14, but Iceland weathered the storm. Thorsteinn Leo Gunnarsson stepped up in the closing stage, as he drew level and then pulled his team ahead 16:15 with just nine seconds remaining.

Morocco still had a chance to snatch a point, but Ouzror's shot was saved by Thorstensen. And then Iceland had a fast break and earned a 7m shot - it was converted by Benedikt Oskarsson, who sealed his team's opening win. 

hummel Player of the Match: Youssef El Mouaddar, Morocco

  • Group F

Slovenia vs Greenland 48:23 (24:10)

Never in their history at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship, Slovenia scored more than 24 goals in the first half of the game. But they threw off Germany/Greece 2023 with a bang, delivering an excellent 30 minutes against Greenland.

Buoyed by a strong start from centre back Mitja Janc, the MVP of the M19 EHF EURO 2021, who scored six goals in the first 18 minutes, Slovenia took a strong lead and never looked back against Greenland, who made their first appearance in the competition since 2009.

The 10:2 Slovenia start was impossible to match by their opponents, as the superiority was clear on both sides of the ball, with Greenland only relying on Maligiaq Villads Lynge Rosing, who scored six goals.

The gap ballooned as the game progressed, with Slovenia delivering their best-ever attacking performance at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship, with 48 goals, making a clear statement of intent ahead of tougher games against Bahrain and Sweden. Janc was their top scorer, with nine goals, becoming the provisional leader in the top goal scorer standings at Germany/Greece 2023.

On the other hand, Greenland broke their record for the largest loss in history in the competition, an 18-goal loss against Sweden at Egypt 2009, and their chances of progression to the main round have taken a big hit, with matches against Bahrain and Sweden also coming.

hummel Player of the Match: Leon Gregorič (Slovenia)