Five talking points after an outstanding 2023 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship
03 Jul. 2023
After 116 games and nearly 7,000 goals scored, Germany were crowned champions at the first edition of the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship with 32 teams at the start.
We review what happened over the last two weeks in Magdeburg, Hanover, Berlin and Athens and see what stood out in a fiery competition that ended up with a Germany win.
Flawless Germany seal title
For the first time since 2015, a team has secured the title by winning all their matches in regular time, with Germany riding an eight-game winning streak to clinch their third title at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship. Eight years ago, France won nine games in a row to bring the trophy home, but now, Germany have done it superbly on their home court.
In fact, Germany had an outstanding year with their junior team, which won all the 15 games they played, clearly the top side at this level in the world, especially at Germany/Greece 2023, where they rarely found themselves in trouble. But even when they had issues, like in the games against Croatia and France in the main round, wasting leads of seven goals, they bounced back in superb fashion to clinch the win and improve their chances for the title, which eventually came in a packed Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin.
One more title for Heuberger
At the junior level, Martin Heuberger is undoubtedly one of the most decorated coaches ever, having added another title to his impressive collection. Heuberger had already secured the previous two gold medals at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship with Germany, at Egypt 2009 and Greece 2011, and already had a European title in 2006.
Now, he led an excellent generation to another world title, the third in history, a feature achieved only by four countries – the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Denmark and Sweden. Heuberger also has a silver medal in the world handball flagship competition in 2007, as he shepherded dozens of players in this category before they made the final step towards the senior team.
Six nations represented in the All-Star team
The All-Star team of the 24th IHF Men’s Junior World Championship offered a well-balanced side, with six nations represented, including all three medallists. Of course, the cream of the crop was reserved for Germany, who had three players in the team, goalkeeper David Späth, line player Justus Fischer and the MVP of the competition, the left-handed centre back Nils Lichtlein, who delivered excellent performances throughout the eight matches played in Hanover, Magdeburg and Berlin.
Hungary’s Zoran Ilic was the All-Star right back of the competition, while Iceland’s right wing Kristófer Máni Jónasson was the bronze medallists’ pick. Nothing could separate the two joint top scorers of the competition, Faroe’s Elias Ellefsen Á Skipagotu and Japan’s Naoki Fujisaka, who both scored 55 goals in the competition.
Ellefsen Á Skipagotu was also the All-Star centre back, leading the Faroe Islands to their best-ever finish at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship, with 55 goals and 48 assists, as the future THW Kiel player announced himself once again on the big stage.
Goals galore at Germany/Greece 2023
With 6805 goals scored in 116 matches, Germany/Greece 2023 has now set a record for the edition of the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship with the highest number of goals scored and the highest average number of goals scored per game. In fact, 58.66 goals were scored per game on average in the competition, beating the previous record of 58.23 goals per game, set at Egypt 2009 when Germany became champions for the first time in their history.
The highest scoring game at Germany/Greece 2023 was the Placement Match 9-12 between France and Spain, with 78 goals combined between the two sides, with two other matches finishing with 77 goals scored. In terms of goals scored, Spain (36.7 goals scored per game), France (35.7) and Sweden (35.5) had the best attacks, with Germany having 276 goals in eight matches but an average of 34 goals scored per game.
Excellent attendance at Germany/Greece 2023
If there was one more doubt regarding the popularity of handball, it was definitely shattered at this event, with fans of all ages flocking to see their favourite teams in the 116 matches played over the last two weeks at Germany/Greece 2023. In Magdeburg, Hanover and Berlin, the first games of the day saw over 20,000 children flock to the arenas and see handball, with the record being set in Berlin, with over 5,000 children at the game between France and Spain.
The Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin was also sold out for the final between Germany and Hungary, with 8,235 spectators being present for the game, which saw the hosts take the trophy.