08 Jul. 2019
It was a case of Nordic dominance at the 2019 Men’s European Open 17, which concluded on Friday night in Gothenburg. Faroe Islands claimed the title at what is the first major international competition for players of this age category, male athletes born in 2002 and later. Tournament hosts Sweden secured the silver medal and Iceland won bronze at the 24-team event.
It was the first edition of the European Open for U17 men’s teams, as the men’s tournament was previously played with U19 squads. The Women’s European Open changed from U18 to U16 last year, with the goal of providing a high-level competition for younger players.
Faroe Islands beat Sweden 36:29 in the final on Friday night, while Iceland took a 30:29 victory over Belarus in the bronze medal match. The four teams qualified for their medal play-offs as the top two sides in their respective main round groups.
Faroe Islands were the clear leaders in main round Group II, collecting six points after defeating their three opponents – Belarus, Hungary and Spain – all of whom tallied two. Although they had the same number of points as Hungary and Spain, Belarus clinched second thanks to a better goal difference. Sweden placed first in Group I, with five points, after a draw with Czech Republic, and victories over Italy and Iceland. Iceland were just one point behind, on four, courtesy of wins versus Czech Republic and Italy.
Faroe Islands’ campaign began in preliminary Group C, where they took four wins in five games. They opened with a victory over Norway, then beat Spain, Estonia and Georgia, before ending the preliminary round with a loss to Israel. Nevertheless, they ranked first with eight points.
Faroe Islands’ final opponents, Sweden, placed first in Group A following four victories and one draw. Sweden defeated Russia, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Great Britain before drawing with Czech Republic.
Eventual bronze medallists Iceland ranked first in Group B, thanks to four wins and one loss – victories over Netherlands, Montenegro, Italy and Austria. Their one preliminary round defeat was to Romania, by just one goal. Belarus ranked second in Group D, thanks to four victories, versus Belgium, Poland, Finland and Hungary.
Faroe Islands Elias Ellefsen Skipagotu scored 69 goals to finish as the top scorer of the tournament.
More information on the 2019 Men’s European Open 17 can be found on the official website of the European Handball Federation.
Photo: Christian Wahlgren