06 Aug. 2022
Six European sides and one each from Africa and Asia are still in contention for the coveted gold medal at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship, with the knock-out phase starting on Sunday in the Boris Trajkovski and Jane Sandanski Sport Centres in Skopje.
Two 100% European clashes highlight the day, with Denmark facing France, while Iceland are trying to extend their stay at North Macedonia 2022 when they face the Netherlands. Title contenders Hungary meet Egypt, while the Republic of Korea, who are riding a five-game winning streak, meet Sweden, who, alongside the Netherlands, are the team with the lowest number of wins in the competition – three – still in the hunt.
Elsewhere, the remaining teams will also start their final games of the competition, trying to secure a better placement, with hosts North Macedonia aiming to finish in the top 10 in the tournament they are hosting, while Algeria, Guinea, Uruguay and India all trying to avoid finishing on the last place.
- Iceland vs Netherlands (18:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
- Denmark vs France (18:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
- Republic of Korea vs Sweden (20:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
- Hungary vs Egypt (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
There are only eight teams left in the race for a medal at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship and only three of them – Egypt, France and Iceland – have not sealed a podium finish, hence a medal around their necks, at the previous editions of the competition.
Taking part in the competition for the first time, Iceland have been the biggest surprise so far, taking the championship by storm, with four wins and a single draw, winning their group both in the preliminary round and in the main round. With the lowest number of conceded goals after five matches – 90 – the only side to concede goals in double digits, Iceland are now facing Netherlands, who finished second in Group III of the main round.
The Netherlands side have won three games, drew another one and lost against Republic of Korea, but bring experienced players to the table, such as goalkeeper Bianca Schanssema and centre back Jalisha Loy, who also featured for the bronze medallist at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship last month.
The second quarter-final will be a European classic between Denmark and France, two of the teams with the strongest defences at North Macedonia 2022. The Scandinavian side is riding a five-game winning streak, getting plenty of help from backs Julie Scaglione (37 goals) and Anne With Johansen (31 goals), who are one of the best back pairs in the competition.
On the other side France have conceded only 104 goals in five games, seven less than Denmark, but their main weakness looks to be their attack. No team still in the hunt for a medal scored fewer goals than France until this point in the competition, with Olivier De Lafuente’s side having an average of 25.4 scored goals per game, exactly six less than Denmark after five matches.
The Republic of Korea extended their top-10 finish streak at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship to eight editions after qualifying for the quarter-finals and they did it in style, securing five wins until now, all of which came against European opponents – Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Netherlands and Romania.
With a back pair that worked wonders, with Minseo Kim and Seojin Kim combining for 74 goals in the competition, the Asian side dazzled with their speed and efficiency, as Korea have been the second most efficient team in the competition, with 64.6% of their shots converted into goals. Their opponent, Sweden, just sneaked into the quarter-finals, after a loss against Iceland and a draw against North Macedonia, but will try to contain their opponents in a winner-takes-all scenario.
Last, but not least, the runners-up from Poland 2018, Hungary, will try to extend their winning streak to six games, after beating France, Norway and Spain until this point in the competition. Their next challenge, Egypt, will be one of the most difficult yet, with the African side already being assured their best-ever finish in the competition, having previously won four out of the five matches they played.
Hungary proved remarkable consistency throughout the competition, as only a single player, back Petra Simon, made it in the top 50 scorers at North Macedonia so far, scoring 28 goals. However, handing players a rest and preparing them from the run-in to the title, which would be Hungary’s first in the history of the competition, was a conscious choice from coach Beata Bohus, as Egypt will surely test the mettle of the European side.
9-12 Placement Round
- Croatia vs Norway (14:00 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
- North Macedonia vs Germany (16:00 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
After a four-game unbeaten streak, hosts North Macedonia lost their first match at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship and that loss turned out to be their undoing, as they failed to secure a historic quarter-final berth. They still can finish in the top 10 for the first time in their history, but first, they need a win against Germany, a side that have recently gone back to winning ways, after dropping two consecutive matches.
On the other hand, Norway will face Croatia trying to still finish in the top 10, but they will have to drastically improve their attack, which has scored the sixth-lowest amount of goals in the competition, 122. On the other hand, Croatia have the third-best attack at North Macedonia 2022, with 167 goals, but will face Norway’s defence, who conceded only 100 goals in five matches, the second lowest amount in the competition.
13-16 Placement Round
- Islamic Republic of Iran vs Romania (14:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
- Portugal vs Brazil (16:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
Eight years ago, Romania were crowned champions at the 2014 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship in North Macedonia, but the same coach, Aurelian Rosca, did not manage another huge surprise, as the European powerhouse conceded two losses in the main round, against the Republic of Korea and Germany. They will still be favoured heavily against Islamic Republic of Iran, who earned a surprise main round berth but lost their last three games in a row.
Portugal will not tie their best-ever result in the competition, the 11th place in 2016, but will aim to secure another win in the competition, against Brazil. The South American side have won only a single game so far at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship but can still avoid their worst finish in the competition if they end the tournament with two wins in a row.
17-20 Placement Round
- Montenegro vs Slovenia (17:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall B, Skopje)
- Faroe Islands vs Spain (20:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Hall B, Skopje)
Four teams stay in contention for the President’s Cup, and they all represent Europe. Montenegro have lost just one match at North Macedonia so far – against Sweden – but they failed to reach the main round and now are determined to win the consolation trophy. Their next opponent will be another Balkan team, Slovenia, who have never been ranked lower than 16th place in their two previous World Championship participations.
The same can be said about Spain, who participate at this level for the fifth time. The Iberian team were unfortunate to be drawn into a competitive Group H in the preliminary round, but after failing to reach the main round, they went on to take big wins against Uruguay and Czech Republic. Now they will face Faroe Islands, the World Championship debutants who ended up in the 17th-place bracket following three straight wins against Austria, India and Kazakhstan.
21-24 Placement Round
- Uzbekistan vs Switzerland (10:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
- Austria vs Czech Republic (10:00 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
Uzbekistan finished 24th in both their previous participations at this level, but now they have a chance to take a higher position. After four consecutive defeats, the Asians beat Algeria in the highest-scoring game of the tournament ever played at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship (52:39), and they were somewhat lucky to proceed to the 21st-place bracket with just two points. Having a top scorer of the competition Sevinch Erkabaeva (46 goals) in their squad, they will be up against Switzerland, the World Championship debutants who finished second in the President’s Cup Group III after losing 23:32 against Slovenia.
For both Austria and Czech Republic, this is the second tournament at this level, and they finished 15th and 13th respectively at their previous attempts. Now, neither of the teams can climb higher than the 21st position, but in any case, both European rivals are determined to fight hard against each other.
25-28 Placement Round
- Kazakhstan vs Argentina (10:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall B, Skopje)
- Senegal vs Slovakia (12:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
In the 25th place bracket, four teams represent four different continents. Kazakhstan are de-facto still looking for their first win at North Macedonia 2022 – in the preliminary round, they were given a 10:0 victory against India because the Asians failed to arrive at the championship in time due to travel problems. In turn, their rivals Argentina claimed a long-awaited win on Friday, defeating Uruguay in a South American derby.
Debutants Senegal earned their maiden win at this level against Uzbekistan, but now they are looking for more. However, it will not be easy for them to beat Slovakia. On Friday, the European team finally took their first victory in the competition, notably against another African team, Guinea.
29-32 Placement Round
- Algeria vs Guinea (12:00 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
- India vs Uruguay (13:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center Hall B, Skopje)
Two of the teams who finished bottom of their President’s Cup groups represent Africa, and now they will face each other. But while Guinea have lost all their matches at North Macedonia so far, Algeria are the only team in the 29th place bracket to have claimed a victory in the previous round. However, a win against fellow African side Senegal did not help them to finish higher than in the fourth position in Group I.
Both Algeria and Guinea are debutants of the World Championship – and so is India. The Asian team claimed their first point at this level against Austria, but they are still waiting for their maiden win. And for Uruguay, this is the third participation in the tournament. After losing five consecutive matches, the South Americans are looking for a long-awaited win.