NetherlandsCoach: Per Johansson
Between 2015 and 2019 there was no European or World Championship without the Netherlands on the podium. Two silver medals in 2015 and 2016 at the IHF Women's World Championship and respectively European Championship were followed by two bronze medals the following years in 2017 and 2018. Finally, at Japan 2019 the squad celebrated their biggest achievement in history by winning the gold medal at the World Championship.
Since then, it has been quieter around them. They achieved two sixth places at the recent European Championships in 2020 and 2022 but didn’t make it to the top eight two years after winning gold at the 2021 IHF World Championship.
While the team was troubled by the absence of key players due to injuries or pregnancy, they all seem to come back for the upcoming edition. However, in the absence of the stalwarts, the young players could develop and collect experience on international level. Although it wasn’t an easy challenge, head coach Per Johansson, who took over the team in 2022, managed to guide the team to yet another sixth place at the EHF EURO 2022.
The Swedish coach has plenty of experience on international level, having been the head coach of Sweden from 2008 to 2012 and of Montenegro between 2017 and 2020. His contract had already been extended until March 2026 to ensure consistency and to lead and develop the team on their road to their World Championship on home ground in 2025.
At this year’s edition, Johansson will be happy to see some familiar faces returning to the squad. After the maternity leave, Lois Abbingh and Tess Lieder will rejoin the team. Also, centre back Larissa Nusser, who tore her cruciate ligament will be back for the World Championship, is back and has already featured at her club, Odense.
Johansson will have to play the upcoming tournament without former captain, line player Danick Snelder, who retired from the national team. The new captain is her club handball colleague at SG BBM Bietigheim, Kelly Dulfer. She will lead her team alongside experienced players such as Angela Malestein, Lois Abbingh, Estevana Polman and Laura Van der Heijden as well as young players like Kim Molenaar and Zoë Sprengers. Polman will be entering the competition without many games under her belt this season, easing her way back on the court after a knee surgery.
The team has an interesting duo between the posts. Already at the 2021 World Championship, Tess Lieder and Yara ten Holte were the second-best goalkeeper pair and in the absence of Lieder, ten Holte was amongst the five best goalkeepers at the EHF EURO 2022. While ten Holte switched from German club Borussia Dortmund to Odense Håndbold, Lieder took her place at the club, returning to the German Bundesliga after five years.
The Netherlands will be the favourites in Group H. Johansson’s squad will face the South-American team from Argentina in their opening match in Frederikshavn in Denmark, followed by the match against the African team Congo. They’ll end the preliminary round against the only European opponent from the Czech Republic.
Key players: Kelly Dulfer (left back), Yara ten Holte (goalkeeper), Laura van der Heijden (right back)
Qualification for DEN/NOR/SWE 2023: EHF EURO 2022 – 6th
History in tournament: 1971: 8th, 1973: 12th, 1978: 9th, 1986: 10th, 1999: 10th, 2001: 16th, 2005: 5th, 2011: 15th, 2013: 13th, 2015: 2nd, 2017: 3rd, 2019: 1st, 2021: 9th
Group at DEN/NOR/SWE 2023: Group H (Netherlands, Czech Republic, Argentina, Congo)