European powerhouses set sights on main round spots
23 Jun. 2022
16 teams will take the court on Thursday at the 23rd edition of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, only a day after making their debut in the competition. It is time for the teams in the first four groups to challenge for a main round spot, with powerhouses like the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Norway or Denmark to earn safe passage to the next phase of the competition.
With no surprises in the first round on Wednesday, the teams are positioning themselves to progress to the next round, while one of the most decorated sides in the history of the competition – the Republic of Korea – could be eliminated early and record their worst-ever result in the world flagship handball competition.
- Slovakia vs Netherlands (18:30 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
- Japan vs India (20:30 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
Netherlands and Japan, who earned victories on the opening day, have a chance to secure progression to the main round already on Thursday. It will happen if they both defeat Slovakia and India, respectively.
The Dutch team scored the biggest number of goals among all tournament participants on Wednesday, beating the debutants from India, 46:18. In turn, Slovakia opened their campaign with a 17:29 defeat against Japan – and they will try to bounce back against Netherlands.
While this encounter will be all-European, two Asian rivals will meet in the other Group A match. Japan, who are seen as favourites against India, will try to claim their second straight win and go through.
- Islamic Republic of Iran vs Tunisia (14:30 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
- Guinea vs Sweden (16:30 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
After earning a point in their debut match at this level against Guinea, the Islamic Republic of Iran will face another team from Africa on the next day. Tunisia, who are taking part in their seventh IHF Women's Junior World Championship, sit bottom of the group after a 25:32 defeat against Sweden, yet they are determined to progress to the main round and hope to earn their first points on Thursday.
In turn, Sweden, who are top of Group B with two points, will face two debutants in their remaining group encounters, and they have a chance to secure their main round spot already on Thursday – if they beat Guinea, and Tunisia defeat Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Argentina vs Montenegro (14:30 CEST, Golovec Arena, Celje)
- Italy vs Denmark (18:30 CEST, Golovec Arena Celje)
Despite missing key player Martina Lang, who suffered a knee injury in a friendly game against Slovenia, Argentina started Slovenia 2022 with a huge win against Italy and are now in the cards for a main round spot. A win against Montenegro would all but confirm their spot between the top 16 teams in the competition, therefore the match in the Golovec Arena in Celje will be paramount for their future at Slovenia 2022.
On the other hand, Denmark will be through provided they extend their winning streak to two games against Italy, where they are heavily favoured. Italy, who earned a wild card to enter the competition, could only stay close to Argentina in the first half, as the 20:25 loss from Wednesday would have been larger were it not for the South American side conceding some easy goals in the end of the match. However, the Scandinavian side had their off moments in the 24:20 win against Montenegro, so they will need to up their game in the next matches.
- Norway vs Brazil (16:30 CEST, Golovec Arena, Celje)
- Republic of Korea vs France (20:30 CEST, Golovec Arena, Celje)
Brazil’s credentials in the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship were already doubtful and they were at the receiving end of a tough loss, 18:37, against France in the first game on Wednesday, their largest loss in the competition since 1991, when they conceded a 20-goal loss against the Soviet Union. With a hungry and strong Norway waiting, the South American side must turn the tide quickly to avoid elimination.
In the last game of Thursday’s card in the Golovec Arena in Celje, France face the Republic of Korea, with the Asian side in a must-win situation after their 22:26 loss against Norway in the first round. Another loss would see the Asian side eliminated from contention if Norway earn a point against Brazil, which would definitely see Korea out of the top 10 for the first time ever at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship.