GreenlandCoach: Anders Friis
While no teams are making their debut at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, no side between the 32 lining up at the start of the competition has waited more than Greenland to return to the world handball flagship competition.
Greenland made their first appearance at Italy 2001, but they have lost all their five matches back then, therefore they are still looking for their first win in history at the world handball flagship competition. 22 years later, they are returning at the IHF Women’s World Championship, but the challenge will be high once again, especially as the draw has not been kind to Greenland.
Yet their chances in the preliminary round surely look to be slim, as they face two European sides, plus one of the most consistent teams in the world handball flagship competition in the Republic of Korea.
Alongside Korea, Greenland will face the reigning champions and the reigning European champions, Norway, and Austria, with the lack of experience being there on display for the Nordic side, which will only play at the IHF Women’s World Championship for the second time in history.
Their qualification to Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023 came via an astonishing win at the 2023 North America and Caribbean Women's Handball Championship, where Greenland had an exceptional progress. In 2019, Greenland took the third place and the bronze medal in the continental competition, while in 2021, they finished second, losing the final against Puerto Rico.
In June 2023, on their home court in Nuuk, Greenland had a superb performance at the 2023 North America and Caribbean Women's Handball Championship, sweeping their opponents in the preliminary round, with clearly the best defence in the competition.
Their defence was also there to be seen on display in the final against Canada, an old-school defence-first match, as the hosts took a 17:15 win, keeping their opponents at bay, after taking a 9:6 early lead at the break.
On one hand, Greenland will have their exuberance and their spirit back with them, creating an exceptional feeling in the squad, but on the other hand, the main issue will be the lack of experience.
Although three of their players – centre back Najaaja Lyberth, left wing Andrea Heilmann and left back Ivalu Bjerge – made the All-Star team at the 2023 North America and Caribbean Women's Handball Championship, with Bjerge being named the MVP, their lack of experience could be the main issue for Greenland.
Only a handful of players are featuring in the lower leagues of Denmark, with the core of the squad featuring in the domestic league in Greenland, with those teams not facing stronger opponents over the last years.
Key players: Ivalu Bjerge (left back), Najaaja Lyberth (centre back), Andrea Heilmann (left wing)
Qualification for DEN/NOR/SWE 2023: 2023 North America and Caribbean Women's Handball Championship: Winners
History in tournament: 2001: 24th
Group at DEN/NOR/SWE 2023: Group C (Norway, Republic of Korea, Greenland, Austria)