Co-hosts Germany and Greece open accounts with wins

20 Jun. 2023

Co-hosts Germany and Greece open accounts with wins

Germany and Greece both started the 24th IHF Men's Junior World Championship with wins, casting no shadow of doubt upon the results of the games they featured in from the first minute until the end.

In Hanover, Germany delivered an excellent defensive performance after a shaky start in attack, but still overwhelmed Libya, as the African side made the return to the competition for the first time since 2009.

Backed by their fans in Athens, Greece took the lead early and never looked back, as Saudi Arabia never got their engines going, to clinch a 31:22 win and improve their chances for a place in the main round.

Reigning champions France conceded a loss in a nail-biting game against Croatia (26:27) in what proved to be the most exciting and the most balanced game of the first day, one with a full 16-game card at Germany/Greece 2023.

In the all-Scandinavian derby between Norway and Denmark, the latter side displayed impressive form, taking an 11-goal win (33:22) that left no question about the better side at this moment.

  • Group A

France vs Croatia 26:27 (11:13)

Another episode of the big handball rivalry between France and Croatia elapsed on Tuesday in the GETEC Arena in Magdeburg, as the two European powerhouses delivered the most balanced match of the first round of the preliminary round of the 2023 IHF Men's Junior World Championship.

The game truly did not disappoint, with plenty of twists and turns, including lead changes and a fantastic comeback from reigning world champions France, which eventually failed to materialise into two points, with Croatia taking a nail-biting win (27:26).

The back pair of Mattéo Fadhuile-Crepy and Wallem-Konrad Peleka, who scored 15 goals between them, looked excellent for France at the start of the game, yet slowly and surely, Croatia's defence started getting better and better. With plenty of movement and dynamism, they adapted to what France had to offer and turned the game on its head, as France's 8:6 lead turned into a 13:11 lead at the break for Croatia.

Sure enough, led by the hummel Player of the Match, Ivan Barbic, who scored eight goals, Croatia built a five-goal lead (23:18), but a quick timeout from France coach Johann Delattre had exactly the needed effect, bringing France back into the game.

With four minutes to go in the game, France tied the score, 26:26, with centre back Fadhuile-Crepy really shining in that stint. However, Croatia once again turned on their defence and managed to stop France's advance, protecting their goal in the last four minutes.

Tin Ĺ estak scored with three minutes and 31 seconds left in the game, France did not reply, and Croatia celebrated a big win for their morale, making a huge step towards the main round of Germany/Greece 2023.

hummel Player of the Match: Ivan Barbic (Croatia)

  • Group B

Germany vs Libya 35:14 (18:4)

For three minutes, Libya lived their dream in their return to the IHF Men's Junior World Championship after a 14-year wait, leading 2:1 after a flawless start against co-hosts Germany. Yet the African side could not maintain the same level, as turnovers started to pile over.

In a packed Swiss Life Hall in Hanover, Germany turned on the engines in defence and never looked back, preventing Libya from scoring for 20 minutes and 37 seconds, creating a 12:0 unanswered run, which was truly the building block of their win.

Tim Freihöfer, the star left wing of Germany and top scorer of the game, scored seven goals in the first half, while Libya had 17 turnovers, failing to get any rhythm going into their attack, despite Germany rotating their players to hand some rest to their key stars. But that did not deter the co-hosts, as the gap grew bigger and bigger.

Without any motivation to deliver as big a lead as possible, as heavy favourites in the group, Germany did not push the pedal to the metal, with easy misses, including seven in one-on-one situations, piling up, but their performance was still enough for one of the biggest wins so far at the IHF Men's Junior World Championship.

With a 35:14 win over Libya, Germany took control of the group, but they will need to be sharper, more focused and firing from all engines from now on, especially once they reach the main round after the games against Algeria and Tunisia in the group.

On the other hand, Libya are still left searching for their first-ever win in the competition, this being their eighth loss in a row in eight matches, after having already lost seven matches at Egypt 2009.

hummel Player of the Match: Tim Freihöfer (Germany)





  • Group E

Denmark vs Norway 33:22 (16:12)

One week ago, the two sides met in a friendly tournament in Denmark, the Scandinavia Open, with the hosts taking a clear 39:29 win, proving their superiority. The scenario was repeated in the opening match for the two Scandinavian sides at Germany/Greece 2023, with a lopsided win for Denmark, after a strong start for Norway.

Norway took a 5:4 lead after a strong start, but Denmark proved too strong, especially as their goalkeepers had an outstanding outing, with Mikkel Moller Lovkvist earning the hummel Player of the Match award, while Mathias René Rex Dorgelo saved three shots for a 42% efficiency.

An 8:4 run to end the first half, propelled by Hjalte Lykke and Thomas Sommer Arnoldsen, helped Denmark establish their footing and enter the break with a 16:12 lead, which eventually proved unassailable.

Moller Lovkvist continued his excellent performance in the second half, finishing with 13 saves and a 42% saving efficiency, constantly frustrating the Norway attack, which did not get the needed breaks.

The gap ballooned to 11 goals until the end of the match, as Denmark threw off the competition in style, confirming their status as one of the teams to beat at Germany/Greece 2023, while Norway's credentials are yet to be cleared, with their progression to the main round looking on shaky ground now.

hummel Player of the Match: Mikkel Moller Lovkvist (Denmark)

  • Group H

Greece vs Saudi Arabia 31:22 (15:10)

Greece, who co-host the 24th IHF Men's Junior World Championship alongside Germany, opened their campaign with a win against Saudi Arabia. So now Greece and Egypt top Group H with two points, while Saudi Arabia and Cuba are yet to earn their maiden points.

The Greeks had a slow start, as Saudi Arabia pulled in front 2:0 and later 5:2. However, it did not take long for the co-hosts to wake up and find their rhythm. Supported by the vocal home crowd, they enjoyed a good run to draw level at 7:7. By half-time, the European side were already in the driver's seat, leading 15:10.

And after the restart, Greece continued where they had left off. The Europeans were dominant, as their goalkeeper Dimitrios Bampatzanidis did a good job, which allowed his teammates to score from counterattacks.
Bampatzanidis ended the match with 12 saves, while the goals were evenly distributed among his teammates in attack. Five of them scored four times, but no one managed to find the net more.

So Greece, who are back at the World Championship after a 12-year break, had no problems clinching their opening win, while Saudi Arabia hope to do better in the next matches. 

hummel Player of the Match: Achilleas Toskas (Greece)