CubaCoach: Jover Jorge Hernandez Miranda
Cuba have taken part in seven editions of the IHF Men’s World Championship, with their best-ever finish coming in 1999 when they ended up in eighth place. However, despite producing excellent talent time and time again, Cuba have taken a step back and have never made it to the world handball flagship competition since 2009.
As the only team representing the North America and Caribbean Handball Confederation at the 2023 IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship, Cuba are trying to get back into the fold with a young team, with only four players aged 23 or older in their provisional squad.
A pipeline of talent that has produced some excellent players over the years, Cuba are trying to nurture some young talent, such as Ronaldo Hiriam Almeida Duquezne, who is currently playing for Portuguese powerhouse Sporting CP, with three other players from the roster also featuring in other Portuguese clubs, while two others ply their trade in Spain.
This will be the second edition of the IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship that Cuba will participate in. They finished second four years ago at Georgia 2019, losing the final against the hosts, 21:31, after riding a six-game winning streak into the final.
This time, Cuba will face Great Britain and Guatemala in what appear to be crunch games, as the roster overhaul has been quite important. Their top scorer from the 2019 IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship, Omar Toledano Salazar, returns as the most experienced player of the squad and joins other important players like Hanser Michel Rodriguez Rodriguez.
However, the last major international tournament for Cuba ended in disappointment, as the Caribbean side finished in third place at the 2022 North America and Caribbean Men’s Handball Championship, having lost two games against the United States of America and Mexico in the group phase and drawn against Greenland.
With a 12-goal outing from Rodriguez Rodriguez in the third-place match, Cuba won against Mexico, 35:30, securing the bronze medal. Still, it also proved that Jover Jorge Hernandez Miranda’s side needs plenty of improvement.
Key players: Ronaldo Hiriam Almeida Duquezne (right back), Omar Toledano Salazar (right back), Hanser Michel Rodriguez Rodriguez (centre back)
History in the tournament: 2019: 2nd
Group at Bulgaria 2023: Group C (Great Britain, Cuba, Guatemala)