Faroe Islands deliver huge shock against Spain, as Hungary, Portugal and Iceland sail through

23 Jun. 2023

Faroe Islands deliver huge shock against Spain, as Hungary, Portugal and Iceland sail through

The preliminary round of the 24th IHF Men's Junior World Championship concluded with an astounding 34:31 win for the Faroe Islands over Spain, one of the most impressive results in the history of the competition in terms of the commanding display of an underdog against a big favourite.
The Faroe Islands joined Portugal, Iceland and Hungary as the teams starting with two points in the main round, as the four European sides secured three-game winning streaks in the preliminary round at Germany/Greece 2023.

Iceland took a 32:29 win against Serbia, Hungary proved a point in their win against Denmark (33:28), while Portugal sweated but eventually clinched a win against Brazil (27:19).

  • Group C

Portugal vs Brazil 27:19 (13:11)

In the top-of-the-group clash, Portugal sealed a comfortable win against Brazil, thus ending the group unbeaten. In main round group II, they will start with two points, with Brazil joining them, starting from zero. On Sunday in Hanover, the two will begin their quest against Spain and the Faroe Islands, fighting for a quarter-final spot.

Portugal were more than confident at the start of the game, having an early three-goal lead. Brazil made too many mistakes in attack, with only two attempts on the target in the first five minutes.

The Portuguese side tried to make a new goal run, but they were stopped by William Da Silva Santos. Brazil's goalkeeper had six saves at a 43% saving efficiency, keeping his teammates close. The fast-paced handball we saw at the beginning of the match slowly shifted to a more easy-going, tactical handball while Portugal tried to make a shift in the momentum with deeper defence.

However, the idea was not that effective as Brazil closed the gap to one with new breakthroughs. Brazil could have had an even better score at half-time, but they converted only 52% of shots, which at that point was not enough to make a turnaround. By the end of the match, the percentage dropped to 42, leaving them well below the average goals scored.
There was a glimpse of hope right at the start of the second half for Brazil, but Portugal withstood the rush and kept their small but significant lead. Everything changed in the last ten minutes. Brazil looked tired with a lack of depth and consequently, they reared their heads again. André Sousa shone at that moment for his side, netting four times in six minutes and setting a 23:16 lead for Portugal. In the end, Brazil had to congratulate a better team without a chance to soothe the defeat.

hummel Player of the Match: André Sousa (Portugal)

  • Group D

Spain vs Faroe Islands 31:34 (10:21)

When the Faroe Islands win a game in men's handball, it should not be written off as a surprise. But it is something huge when the Faroe team has an 11-goal lead at the break against the reigning European champions, Spain.

There were many shocked faces in the GETEC Arena in Magdeburg when the final whistle blew in the first half of the last game, but it was a totally deserved result for Faroe, who were 11 goals up against Spain (21:10) after one of the most astonishing first halves at the IHF Men's Junior World Championship.

The Faroe Islands pulled no punches from the start of the game, surprising Spain with a seven-on-six attack from the get-go, with "Los Hispanos" failing to adapt in defence to how their opponents attacked, especially with Rói Ellefsen Á Skipagotu totally outshining every other player on the court.
The centre back scored five goals and dished eight assists as the Faroe Islands outplayed their opponents with some clever passes, excellent defence and some truly efficient fast breaks, which opened the 11-goal gap.

Goalkeeper Pauli Jacobsen was also outstanding, saving seven shots in the first 17 minutes and delivering a 50% saving efficiency in the first 30 minutes; with Spain being unable to score even in simple one-on-one situations, this game is the perfect example that sometimes in handball, as in life, things do not go as planned.

Once again, Hákun West av Teigum (eight goals) and Elias Ellefsen Á Skipagotu (seven goals) ran the show for the Faroe Islands, jumping into second and third places in the top goal scorer standings, with Skipagotu boasting a 26-goal tally, while West av Teigum has 24 goals in his first three games.

Despite a desperate attempt at a comeback by Spain, who cut the gap to only three goals with four minutes to go, the Faroe Islands clinched a precious win (34:31) and will now start their main round group with two points, facing Brazil and Portugal, being in a prime position to secure their best-ever finish and a place in the quarter-finals at the IHF Men's Junior World Championship.

On the other hand, Spain will need to win both games against Portugal – the rematch of the M20 EHF EURO 2022 final – and Brazil to hope for a place in the knockout phase, but their weaknesses have been seriously put on display in this match, one in which they only improved too late to save something, after being down 12 goals at one point in the match.

hummel Player of the Match: Pauli Jacobsen (Faroe Islands)




  • Group E

Hungary vs Denmark 33:28 (16:15)

For the first time since hosting the IHF Men's Junior World Championship in 2005, Hungary have started the competition with three wins in a row, positioning themselves for a berth in the knockout phase, as they will start the main round in Athens with two points.

It was thanks to their previous wins against Argentina and Norway that this Hungary side performed this well against Denmark, brimming with confidence, especially in defence, where the Scandinavian side really failed to get going, with goalkeepers Krisztián Mikler and Kristóf Palasics combining for a 31% save efficiency, but with five one-on-one saves.
But it was far from an easy run for Hungary, who were down four goals (10:14) after 22 minutes, as Denmark constantly found ways to frustrate them in attack. However, surprising for players this age, Hungary displayed some excellent maturity, never panicked and slowly went back into the game.

Ending the half with a 6:1 run was the first moment when Hungary felt that they controlled the game, a run which continued in the second half as right back Zoran Ilic, a player who scored 33 goals for Telekom Veszprém HC in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League this season, took over.

Ilic, the hummel Player of the Match, finished the game with five goals and four assists, while fellow back Péter Lukács added five more goals, with Hungary taking a five-goal lead and never looking back, in one of the best games of the tournament so far.

Despite making four assists and scoring six goals, Denmark's leader, Thomas Sommer Arnoldsen, was contained by Hungary's defence, as Denmark dropped their first game at Germany/Greece 2023, starting the main round with zero points.

On the other hand, Hungary proved their mettle in tough conditions, in one of the most balanced groups in the competition, delivering excellent performances, which translated into a head start in the next phase, with two points, a crucial lift ahead of games against Bahrain and Sweden in the main round.

hummel Player of the Match: Zoran Ilic (Hungary)

  • Group G

Serbia vs Iceland 29:32 (14:16)

In an entertaining all-European duel, Iceland claimed their third straight win at the tournament and finished top of Group G. They will carry two points over to the main round, while the runners-up Serbia will start the new stage with zero points. 

Both sides had boasted solid defence in their previous matches at the championship, as neither Serbia nor Iceland had conceded more than 20 goals in a single match. But if anyone expected their meeting to be low-scoring, they were mistaken, as the rivals scored 61 goals combined. 
Their shot efficiency was nearly equal, as Iceland had 60% and Serbia 59%. Goalkeepers also played an important role – in particular, Serbia's Luka Krivokapic ended the game with 15 saves. He was outstanding in the opening half, stopping 10 of 22 balls for a 45% saving efficiency.

However, his team were down by two goals at the break. Iceland had a 5:0 run between minutes 12 and 21, which helped them pull clear at 12:7. The Nordic team played some good and well-organised handball, with all their players contributing.

12 of them netted at least once in this match, and Simon Gudjonsson became a top scorer with eight goals. Iceland continued to dominate in the second half, and their lead reached six goals several times, the latest being 32:26 with two and a half minutes to go.

Serbia, whose player Milos Kos was the best scorer of the game with nine goals, ended the match with a 3:0 run to slightly sweeten a bitter pill. However, it was too late to avoid a frustrating defeat. 

hummel Player of the Match: Andri Mar Runarsson (Iceland)