24 Jun. 2023
Half of the teams participating in the 24th IHF Men's Junior World Championship did not reach the main round, but the event is not over for any of them.
Each side hopes to redeem itself in the President's Cup, where 16 teams are divided into four groups consisting of four teams, and the first eight matches are scheduled for Sunday 25 June.
- 13:30 CEST (14:30 EEST) Poland vs Libya
While Poland missed out on a main round spot, they will definitely be among the favourites of the President's Cup. The Poles are one of just two participants of the consolation tournament (alongside fellow European team Slovenia) who ended the preliminary stage with three points, and with 110 goals (36.7 per game), they boasted the best attack of all teams who failed to go through.
In fact, Poland scored even more than France and Croatia, who advanced to the main round from their group. With several talented players in their squad, they are viewed as strong favourites in the match against Libya, who finished bottom of Group B.
For Libya, who returned to the World Championship after a 14-year break, participation in the competition is already quite an achievement. Libya lost all three matches in the preliminary stage, including both games against fellow North African sides Algeria and Tunisia.
Sure, the Libyans hope to do better at the President's Cup, but they must first improve their attack. 22 goals against Tunisia was their best-attacking performance so far, and only Greenland and Chile scored fewer goals in the opening round than Libya, who have a tally of 55 goals.
- 15:45 CEST (16:45 EEST) Algeria vs United States of America
Algeria's hopes of reaching the main round vanished on Friday, as they lost to Germany, and Tunisia defeated Libya in Group B. With two points from three games, the North African side finished third in the group and proceeded to the President's Cup.
The solid defence may become their trump card in the remaining matches of the World Championship, as they conceded only 79 goals in the preliminary round, the second-best result among the President's Cup participants behind Morocco.
On Sunday, the Algerians will definitely have a chance to beat USA, who, in contrast, had the second-worst defence at the group stage. In Group A, the North Americans conceded between 45 and 48 goals in all three matches against their European rivals, and it is hardly surprising that they were defeated by a wide margin each time.
However, USA's coach Danilo Rojevic sees it as a big learning experience. "We are hoping that this competition gives all our players an opportunity to develop, to learn, so that by the Olympic Games in 2028, which will take place in America, at Los Angeles, we are able to reach our full potential," he said.
- 11:00 CEST (12:00 EEST) Kuwait vs Angola
After two defeats against Portugal and Brazil, Kuwait ended the preliminary round on a good foot, taking a clear 41:28 win against Costa Rica. That result helped the Asians to finish third in Group C and go to the President's Cup with two points.
On Friday, Kuwait showed their fire power, as 13 of their 14 outfield players netted at least once. Left wing Fawaz Almashari enjoyed a particularly good day, scoring 12 goals from 14 attempts, and he will definitely try to emulate that performance against Angola.
The African team were also close to ending their losing run in their last Group G game, as they led 17:14 against Japan at half-time but, in the end, lost by just one goal (32:33). So Angola will start the consolation tournament with no points, but they definitely have a potential to grab some — and maybe already on Sunday.
- 13:15 CEST (14:15 EEST) Japan vs Costa Rica
Japan should be given credit for their performance against Angola. Despite struggling for much of the game, they improved in the second half and snatched a hard-fought win. As a result, the Asians proceeded to the President's Cup with two points, which obviously increased their chances for a better final placement.
Centre back Naoki Fujisaka stood out with his performance in the preliminary round, proving his attacking skills in every game. As a result, he is currently the joint top scorer of the World Championship alongside Elias Ellefsen a Skipagotu – both have a tally of 26 goals.
Costa Rica, who are participating in their maiden tournament at this level, will have a hard time holding him back, especially given their defensive woes. At the opening stage, the Central American side conceded 131 goals (43.7 on average) – only Greenland and USA had a worse record.
With just 66 goals in three games, their attacking performance also left much to be desired. However, Costa Rica scored 17 goals in the first game, 21 in the second and 28 in the third, so if this trend continues, they may pressure Japan.
- 11:45 CEST (12:45 EEST) Norway vs Greenland
Only three European teams failed to progress to the main round, and two of them, Norway and Slovenia, ended up in the President's Cup Group III.
At the preliminary stage, Norway clearly lost to Hungary and Denmark before claiming their only win, 32:31 against Argentina. So the Scandinavians finished third in the group and took two points to the consolation tournament.
In their 12 previous participations in the World Championship, Norway failed to finish among the top 16 teams only once, at the maiden edition of the tournament in 1977, when they took the 18th position. Now their goal is to avoid their worst placement in history.
On Sunday, the Norwegians will be clear favourites against Greenland, who have so far struggled at Germany/Greece 2023. At the opening stage, they scored 48 goals (16 on average) and conceded 161 goals (53.7 on average) – both are the worst results among all 32 participants of the event.
Sure, Greenland hope to claim one or two wins at the President's Cup to improve an overall impression of their performance. But they need to improve their game a lot if they want to have any chance against Norway.
- 14:00 CEST (15:00 EEST) Slovenia vs Argentina
A surprising draw with Bahrain in their second group match ultimately played a crucial role for Slovenia, denying them a main round spot. The Balkan side finished level with Bahrain on three points, but the Asians, who beat Greenland 63:13 on Friday, went through thanks to a better goal difference.
So the Slovenes, who lost 25:38 to Sweden on the same day, were left heartbroken. However, the championship is not over for them. The team now has a chance to redeem themselves in the President's Cup, where they start with two points.
Now Slovenia hope to boost their morale with a win against Argentina, who failed to earn a single point against their European rivals in the competitive Group E. However, the South Americans proved that they are a hard nut to crack, losing only by three goals against Denmark (28:31) and by one goal against Norway (31:32).
Argentina are playing their 11th straight World Championship, and at the previous edition of the tournament at Spain 2019, they finished 21st, which was their worst-ever placement. Now the South Americans still have a chance to do better – and they are determined to fight hard.
- 11:45 CEST (12:45 EEST) Morocco vs Cuba
Although Morocco failed to qualify for the main round, they left a decent impression at the preliminary stage. In their opening game, the Africans were close to taking points from Iceland, showing a good defensive performance, but losing 15:17 in the last minutes.
And on Friday, Morocco beat Chile 24:18, which allowed them to progress with two points. Actually, it was the team's fourth win in World Championship history.
While Morocco's attack efficiency was not perfect at the opening stage, their defence and goalkeeper Youseef El Mouaadar did quite a good job. In three matches, they conceded only 73 goals – fewer than any other team who proceeded to the President's Cup and even fewer than nine sides who reached the main round.
In contrast, Cuba had defensive problems, conceding more than 40 goals against both Egypt and Greece. However, they almost snatched a point on Friday against Saudi Arabia, as the Asians scored a winner only four seconds from full-time.
The Cubans are making a debut at the World Championship, but they definitely have some potential. With 22 goals, Maiko Vazques is the joint sixth-best scorer of the competition – and Morocco should keep an eye on him.
- 14:00 CEST (15:00 EEST) Saudi Arabia vs Chile
In their first two matches at the tournament against Egypt and Greece, Saudi Arabia enjoyed a good start but failed to maintain the same level of energy throughout 60 minutes and suffered two defeats. On Friday, the Asians also slowed down as the game with Cuba progressed, yet, they earned a hard-fought win with a last-gasp goal.
Now Saudi Arabia start the President's Cup with two points, and it looks like that will be favoured to win against Chile. In attack, the Asian team will again rely on Murtaja Alkhedhrawi, who is among the top ten scorers of the tournament with a tally of 21 goals.
Chile had big problems in attack in the preliminary round, as they failed to score more than 18 goals in a single match. Overall, they netted just 49 times, which is the second-worst result after Greenland. So unless the team coached by Aitor Etxaburu improve their efficiency, it will be hard for them to grab any points from Saudi Arabia.