NorwayCoach: Thorir Hergeirsson
Only one country – Russia – have won more gold medals at the IHF Women’s World Championship than Norway. But this could change at Spain 2021 if the Norwegian side achieve their goal of claiming the first gold medal since Denmark 2015.
However, the Nordic powerhouse are the team with the most medals won in the competition – 10 – having reached the semi-finals six times in the last seven editions, underlining their greatness, with several generations that have dominated European handball.
There are some players who are multiple medallists at the IHF Women’s World Championship, like Camilla Herrem (two golds, a silver and a bronze each) or Katrine Lunde (one gold, two silver and a bronze medal), who are still earmarked to take part in Spain 2021 to boost their medal tally and link some golden generations for Norwegian handball.
Yet, the task will be difficult for Norway, who have not been able to replicate their form of the Women’s EHF EURO tournaments at the IHF Women’s World Championship. Since 1998, Norway have won the EHF EURO eight times, but in the same span, they have become world champions only thrice.
Whether Norway will be the same team as last December, the team who won the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 with eight out of eight wins and a goal difference of +94, or the side who failed to seal the gold medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 after conceding a loss in the semi-finals against ROC, will be the big question prior to the throw-off at Spain 2021.
The talent is surely there, with a plethora of weapons both in attack and in defence, ready for coach Thorir Hergeirsson to unleash against their opponents.
Norway had the best attack in the competition in both the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 – with an average of 31.75 goals per game – and at Tokyo 2020, when they put 32.25 goals past their opponents.
Both the top scorer of the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championship, Nora Mork, and the MVP of that edition, centre back Stine Bredal Oftedal, are earmarked to take part for the Norwegian side in Spain 2021, as well as the All-star goalkeeper at Germany 2017, Katrine Lunde, and the All-star left wing at Japan 2019, Camilla Herrem.
With great defensive stalwarts like Kari Brattset Dale and rising star Henny Reistad also on the provisional list, Norway look like an unstoppable force, ready to take their fourth gold medal in history.
Yet, as usual, nobody is talking about it, rather than focusing on the task at hand in the preliminary round.
“We have played against Kazakhstan and we know them well and it is great that teams like Iran are coming to play at the IHF Women’s World Championship,” said Hergeirsson.
Norway have also played 10 times against Romania in the last six years, winning eight times and conceding two losses, being big favourites to swoop their opponents and win their group in the preliminary round.
In October, Norway won both games in the inaugural edition of the Women’s EHF EURO CUP, 29:17 and 26:21, when plenty of players have been rested.
A friendly tournament due to take place in November, just before Spain 2021, will test Norway against reigning champions the Netherlands, RHF and the Republic of Korea.
Key players: Nora Mork (right back), Kari Brattset Dale (line player), Katrine Lunde (goalkeeper), Henny Reistad (centre back), Stine Bredal Oftedal (centre back)
Qualification for Spain 2021: Women’s EHF EURO 2020 – Winners
History in tournament: 1971: 7th, 1973: 8th, 1975: 8th, 1982: 7th, 1986: 3rd, 1990: 6th, 1993: 3rd, 1995: 4th, 1997: 2nd, 1999: 1st, 2001: 2nd, 2003: 6th, 2005: 9th, 2007: 2nd, 2009: 3rd, 2011: 1st, 2013: 5th, 2015: 1st, 2017: 2nd 2019: 4th
Group at Spain 2021: Group C (Norway, Romania, Kazakhstan, Iran)