Unbeaten Hungary and Norway face off for gold medal at Slovenia 2022
02 Jul. 2022
After a two-week stacked schedule, the business end of the 23rd edition of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship is just around the corner. Four games are still to be played in the Zlatorog Arena in Celje, with the top eight places ready to be awarded at Slovenia 2022, with all eyes fixed on the big final, which will see Hungary and Norway facing off.
It is a rematch of last edition’s final, when a talented Hungary side clinched a 28:22 win against Norway, with the Scandinavian team hoping to avenge that painful defeat and win the title for the second time.
But Hungary boast the top attack and the sturdiest defence in the competition, while also riding a 15-game winning streak, dating back to Russia 2016, as they will definitely try to become the first team in 17 years to retain the title.
In the bronze medal match, Netherlands try to secure their first-ever medal in the competition when they face Sweden, with the two sides aiming to finish the competition on a high, despite disappointing losses in the semi-finals.
- Norway vs Hungary (17:30 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
Four years ago, Hungary secured their first-ever title at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, taking a clear 28:22 win against Norway. The Scandinavian powerhouse will now aim to avenge that loss, with another talented generation measuring up with Hungary, in the battle for the title at Slovenia 2022, after the completion of 115 games.
It is easier said than done, with Hungary’s total domination over the past editions in the competition resembling what Russia did between 2001 and 2005, when they cruised to a 21-game winning streak on their way to clinching three consecutive titles. Indeed, since 2005, no reigning champions retained their trophy in the subsequent edition, failing even to reach the final.
Therefore, Hungary’s achievement is nothing short of spectacular, as they are entering Slovenia 2022’s final with a 15-game winning streak, two of those wins coming against Norway at Hungary 2018. The reigning champions also boast the top attack in the competition, scoring 247 goals, an average of 35.2 goals per game, and have conceded the lowest number of goals at Slovenia 2022, 132, only 18.8 per game.
“We want to win the title and if we play the same way we did in the semi-final against Sweden, there is no team that can really beat us,” says Hungary’s captain, centre back Johanna Farkas, who scored 11 goals in her side’s 33:25 win against Sweden on Friday. The 20-year-old back is also Hungary’s top scorer in the competition, with 39 goals, as coach Szillard Kiss managed to balance the minutes of his players throughout the whole competition.
On the other hand, Norway have won six games and drawn one, against France, 34:34, in the preliminary round, on their way to the big final. Another win would set an unprecedented record for the Scandinavian side, who have never finished the tournament undefeated, not even in 2010 when they secured their only gold medal in the competition.
“It would be amazing to secure the gold medal, therefore we are here, and I think we can win against any other side. It will be difficult, but it is not impossible,” adds Norway’s back Martine Andersen.
Hungary have amazing memories from the Zlatorog Arena in Celje, with this generation winning the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2019 and the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2021 in the same venue, as a hat-trick would definitely cement their legacy as one of the best generations in history in the younger age categories in women’s handball.
Both sides have already won the competition once, so a gold medal would see them only as the fifth team in history to have clinched the title at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship at least twice, after the Soviet Union, Russia, Denmark, and Romania. Moreover, Hungary and Norway have played three finals, winning once, and losing the other two.
- Netherlands vs Sweden (15:00 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
The two sides meet for the second time at Slovenia 2022, after the Netherlands clinched a 23:22 win in the main round, which enabled them to secure first place and set up a crunch match against Angola in the quarter-finals. Things might change, however, in the bronze medal game, as Sweden will also be motivated to win only their second medal in history at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, after clinching the trophy in 2012.
Winning a medal will also be a superb achievement for the Netherlands, especially after this generation failed to make it between the top 16 teams in Europe in 2021 at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2021. It would also be their first in the world flagship handball competition, with coach Ricardo Clarijs aiming to motivate his team after a disappointing loss against Norway in the semi-final on Friday. However, the Netherlands have already secured their best-ever finish in the competition, topping the fifth place at Hungary 2018.
Dutch back Kim Molenaar needs eight goals to tie Czech Republic’s left back Charlotte Cholevova on the first place in the top goal scorer standings, as she currently sits on the third place, with 54 goals, scoring an average of 7.7 goals per game at Slovenia 2022.
On the other side, Sweden proved their worth against Hungary, hovering around until the 47th minute, when the reigning champions went on a 4:1 run and never looked back. After finishing 13th in 2014 and 12th in 2018, this is a huge step forward for Sweden’s junior national team.
5/6 placement match
- Angola vs Denmark (12:45 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
Angola will not only record their best-ever finish at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, having never made the top 10 in the previous editions, but will also secure the top placement for any African side in history, after winning five of the seven games they played at Slovenia 2022.
Whether they finish fifth or sixth, only the game against Denmark will tell, as two totally different sides collide in the Zlatorog Arena in Celje before the final two matches at Slovenia 2022. Angola’s highly athletic brand of handball will be tested against a sturdy Denmark defence, which conceded only 24.5 goals per game, despite facing the two finalists, Norway, and Hungary, but also France, Montenegro and Germany on their way to this match.
Angola welcomed back Regina Marcos, the dazzling centre back who suffered an injury in the match against Germany in the main round, which is a plus, while Denmark can finish in the top five places of the tournament for the fifth time in the last seven editions.
7/8 placement match
- Switzerland vs Germany (10:30 CEST, Zlatorog Arena, Celje)
Switzerland have definitely earned their best-ever finish in the competition and their performance at Slovenia 2022 will be called a resounding success but finishing the tournament with three losses in a row will raise some questions for coach Damian Gwerder. Therefore, the match against Germany will still be important, as two wounded teams face off in the battle for seventh place.
Germany have conceded two painful losses in the knockout phase of the competition, 24:36 against Sweden in the quarter-finals and 27:38 against Denmark, as they aim to finish on a high. Better efficiency is needed for Germany, as coach Andre Fuhr will rally his team one last time at Slovenia 2022.