Examining Group B: Two European sides start as favourites against Cameroon and Paraguay

08 Oct. 2023

Examining Group B: Two European sides start as favourites against Cameroon and Paraguay

Two strong European sides – Hungary and Montenegro – an African team and Paraguay, a team representing South America, will be clashing in Group B at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, which will take place in Sweden, in the Helsingborg Arena.

With three qualifying spots for the main round, Hungary and Montenegro will be aiming to go through without a hitch and battle for the first place in the final standings, while everything seems to be open for the third qualifying spot, as both Cameroon and Paraguay will be aiming to secure a place between the top 24 sides in the world.

The two European sides – Montenegro and Hungary – have faced off four times in the past 10 years, with Montenegro boasting a positive head-to-head record, with three wins and one loss, including a 100% winning record at the IHF Women’s World Championship.

The first match at the World Championship between the two sides came at Denmark 2015, in the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, when Montenegro shocked Hungary, handing their opponents one of their worst-ever losses in history in a major international competition, 32:15, in the third match of the preliminary round.

Four years later, the two sides met once again in the preliminary round at Japan 2019, where Montenegro secured another win, 25:24, on their way to the best-ever finish at the IHF Women’s World Championship, the fifth place.

However, Montenegro are coming after their worst-ever finish in the world handball flagship competition, the 22nd place at Spain 2021 and will hope to build upon the excellent result at the EHF EURO 2022, when they clinched the bronze medal, after a superb competition and some excellent performances.

Their main issue is that right Jovanka Radičević, the player with the largest number of caps, 192, and the largest number of goals for Montenegro, 1103, has met an end to her international career and will be very difficult to replace. Moreover, another crucial player, left back Djurdjina Jauković, is injured and will miss Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.

On the other hand, Hungary will be aiming to mount their first challenge for a quarter-finals berth since 2013, having finished 11th, 15th, 14th and 10th respectively over the last four editions of the IHF Women’s World Championship.

With plenty of talent, hailing from the previous performances at the youth and junior levels, where Hungary won medals both at continental and at the IHF Women's World Championship, seasoned with some experience from players who were already tested at this level, the European side are aiming to get as far as possible, in a berth to try and clinch a place for the Olympic Games.

They have never played against Cameroon or Paraguay, but have a good balance against African and South American sides at this level, being invincible against teams from these continents over the last decade.
For Cameroon, a place in the main round would position them with a chance to seal their best-ever result at the IHF Women’s World Championship, after finishing 22nd, 20th and 28th in their previous three appearances.

A win against Paraguay would also help the African side seal their maiden main round berth, but Cameroon have lost both matches played against South American opposition in their history at the IHF Women’s World Championship, 20:21 against Argentina in 2005 and 26:28 against Brazil in 2017.

Last, but not least, Paraguay have won two games in each of their last three participations at the IHF Women’s World Championship, having secured seven wins in 27 matches in the world handball flagship competition.

The South American side will now aim to seal their first place in the main round, but Marizza Faria’s side will likely need a win against Cameroon, which would be only their second win against African opposition, after they secured a 29:19 win against Algeria at Serbia 2013.