USA secure maiden win, Spain and Angola head for the President's Cup final at North Macedonia 2024

27 Jun. 2024

USA secure maiden win, Spain and Angola head for the President's Cup final at North Macedonia 2024

An action-packed Thursday at the 2024 IHF Women's Junior World Championship threw off with the Placement Matches in the President's Cup, where Angola and Spain secured crucial wins and will now head to the Placement Match 17/18, fighting for the consolation trophy.

In other match, the United States of America clinched their maiden win of the competition, 25:21, against rivals Mexico, while Argentina and Czechia also cleared out their credentials, with wins over Guinea and the Islamic Republic of Iran respectively.

Japan vs Angola 27:30 (13:15)

Angola extended their winning streak in the President's Cup thus reaching the final of the consolation tournament, with a 30;27 win over Japan.

Both sides were determined to show their skills after three straight wins in the competition. Japan were the first to make a break, using their strong defensive display to produce a three-goal run. The centre back Yusa Okumura led the attack and was the main reason why Japan managed to hold onto the lead for the next eight minutes.

Angola, once again in this competition, had a late wake-up call. After a slower start, they stepped up a gear and their top scorer and competition's second top-scorer Bernardeth Belo perfected her aim, while goalkeeper Carla Mulamba locked her side and from trailing by two Angola went to leading by one (11:10).

Japan kept pouncing and imposed a fast pace which did not allow Angola to make a clear break. They further tried to shake things up by changing the goalkeeper but it did not make an impact on the game. It took ten minutes of the second half for Angola to gain a more significant lead which came from Japan's hasty attack.

As right wing Balbina Nuna netted her seventh goal in the game and third in the second half, Angola set 21:17. By the end of the game Japan managed to scare the African side only once, in the 47th minute when they narrowed the gap to 21:22 but it was short-lasting.

The African schampions retained their concentration in the closing stages of the match and sealed the win. Alkaloid Player of the Match Balbina Nunda and Bernardeth Belo shone for Angola by scoring their team's 20 goals. Japan had almost every player on the court with 11 out of 14 outfield players scoring at least once.

Angola will fight for the 17th place against Spain, while Japan will face Brazil for the 19th place.

Alkaloid Player of the Match: Balbina Nunda (Angola)

Brazil vs Spain 20:33 (14:18)

After beating Brazil, Spain progressed to the President’s Cup final and will fight for the trophy with Angola on Friday. In turn, the South American side will go to the Placement Match 19-20, where they will face Japan.

Back court players Eider Poles Olucha and Ester Somaza made a special contribution to their team’s success, scoring eight and seven goals, respectively. Left wing Maria Carrillo also did a good job, netting seven times, while the Spanish goalkeeper Aida Fernandez Del Rio had a 33% save efficiency.

Brazil, which had registered three consecutive wins before this match, put a lot of pressure on the Spanish in the first half. Four minutes from half-time, they were down by just two goals, 13:15, and even the 14:18 score at the break seemed to give them a chance for a comeback.

But the South American team had 23 turnovers in this match, which hampered their chances for a positive result. Helped by good defence and some saves from Fernandez Del Rio, Spain started the second half with a 7:1 run and did not slow down afterwards, ultimately securing a commanding win. 

Alkaloid Player of the Month: Eider Poles Olucha, Spain

Argentina vs Guinea 31:26 (16:12)

A 3:0 run to start the match for Argentina, after only one minute and 58 seconds, saw the South American side firmly in control and likely heading to a big win. But Guinea never back down, with the same type of attitude displayed in the previous matches.

Goalkeeper Fatoumata Soumah kept the African team in the match with a 32% saving efficiency, but Argentina, a more experienced side, managed to keep the gap at around the three-four goal mark, leading by four goals at the break, 16:12.

As hard as they tried in the second half, led by back Mariama Bangoura and line player Mayelie Soumah, who each scored six goals, Guinea could not get closer than two goals to the South American side, 20:18, after 42 minutes.

With an excellent outing from Azul Spinelli, who scored seven goals and entered the top-10 of the top goal scorer standings, with 30 goals, four less than teammate Sofia Gull Querin, Argentina secured a 31:26 win.

The South American champions will now feature in the Placement Match 21/22, against the winner of the match between Tunisia and Serbia.

Alkaloid Player of the Match: Azul Spinelli (Argentina)

Islamic Republic of Iran vs Czechia 17:29 (4:16)

The loss against the People’s Republic of China in the preliminary round derailed Czechia’s bid to end North Macedonia 2024 on one of the first 16 places, but after another loss against Serbia in the President’s Cup, Czechia went to the Placement Matches 25-28 and were sure to have the lowest finish between the European sides taking part.

However, that did not deter Czechia in their match against the Islamic Republic of Iran, boasting a 11:1 start, which morphed into a 16:4 lead at the break, as 12 of the European side’s 14 outfield players scored at least one goal.

Goalkeeper Patricie Wizurová had seven saves for a 64% saving efficiency, while top scorer Simona Schreibmeierová added five goals, with Iran slowly progressing in the second half, where they scored as many goals as Czechia, 13.
Iran’s back Fatemeh Merikh, already playing in her second edition of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, starred once again for her side, scoring nine goals, jumping to the provisional third place in the top goal scorer standings, with 42 goals, behind Montenegro’s Jelena Vukčević, 56 goals, and Angola’s Bernadeth Belo, with 48 goals.

Czechia, which secured a clear 29:17 win,  will now play in the Placement Match 25/26, against the winner of the tie between the Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan.

Alkaloid Player of the Match: Anna Jestříbková (Czechia)

Mexico vs United States of America 21:25 (12:12)

The United States of America jumped to a 25:21 win against Mexico, securing their first win at North Macedonia 2024.

Mexoc had a promising start to the clash, having a 2:0 lead and their goalkeeper Karewit Ramos on four saves out of five attempts. The USA could not find the right momentum and had to wait until the eighth minute for their first goal. However, USA's shortcomings were not used by their opponents who were never in front by more than three.

Halfway through the first 30 minutes, Mexico slacked off, as their nerves and turnovers started to bloom. The USA team turned the tide with good anticipation and spurred a 4:0 run between the 20th and 26th minute, setting a 10:9 lead after Lovisa Dobreff netted beautifully from the nine-mere line.

Still, Mexico had some aces up their sleeve. They changed their defensive formation and helped Karewit Ramos to have three saves in a row which helped them to make their own 3:0 run and reclaim the lead.

Eventually, teams were locked, 12:12, at halftime but the USA had a fiery restart. A well-set defence, with isolating Mexico's Valeria Lezama gave plenty of room to navigate to the 2023 IHF Trophy U19 – North America and the Caribbean winners.

Even more, two 2-minute suspensions unravelled any potential comeback of the Mexican side which saw the USA set their first four-goal lead at the game (20:14). Mexico tried to start fresh with the team time-out, but nothing changed.

Mexico failed to score a goal for more than 15 minutes, while the USA's lead morphed into 22:14. The USA's 7:0 run could have been even better, but a series of misses and turnovers got in the way. They confidently closed the match, despite the opponents narrowing the gap, and left Mexico disappointed again. The USA also beat Mexicans at Slovenia 2022 in the Placement Match 31-32 when the USA won in a hard-fought match, 28:26.

After finishing 31st at the 2022 IHF Women's World Junior Handball Championship, the United States of America will have a chance to secure 29th place at North Macedonia 2024 against the winner of the duel between Chile and Algeria, while the defeated side will clash with Mexico in the Placement Match 31-32.

Alkaloid Player of the Match: Daisy Licea (United States of America)