18 Aug. 2019
One nation will win their first IHF Men’s Youth World Championship trophy on Sunday. The two finalists, Egypt and Germany, have never celebrated this achievement – and only the European team have won a medal.
At North Macedonia 2019, Egypt have secured what is their first medal ever, while Germany are sure to go at least one better than their top result – bronze in 2013.
Prior to the final, Portugal will have the chance to take their first medal in the competition when they meet Denmark, who are the only nation among the top four who have not already beaten their best record.
Egypt vs Germany
Boris Trajkovski Arena, 18:00 local time
With records reminiscent of France’s campaign at the Junior World Championship, both Egypt and Germany arrived at the final with imperfect campaigns, as they were each beaten once in the preliminary round. Such results, combined with those at the Junior World Championship, show a shift in the level of competition at young age competitions – it is clear that the best teams can be beaten by others, and that winning a medal is a combination of general performance and peaking at the right moment.
Egypt and Germany have certainly done that. Both endured losses in the preliminary round, with the African champions defeated by France and Germany beaten by Portugal. They also showed promise with four wins apiece, but they did not necessarily enter the knock-out round as the clear favourites.
Egypt eliminated Slovenia, Iceland and then Portugal on their path through the knock-out round. As they led the games against Slovenia and Iceland throughout, Egypt were always in a strong position to win their eighth- and quarter-finals. However, they were challenged in the semi-final, as it was Portugal who opened stronger, leaving Egypt to pull off a comeback.
Egypt managed to take the advantage just in time for the break and left no doubt in the second period as they pulled away to a clear 41:36 result. Egypt’s most important players in the win were also Spain 2019 bronze medallists – Hassan Walid Ahmed and Ahmed Hesham Elsayed, who contributed 20 goals between them. The two will clearly be important on Sunday in the trophy match as well.
“We played a great game. We studied the Portuguese game a lot, we stopped all the strong points in their game, and we played until the end. Portugal was also fighting until the end,” said Egypt’s Mohamed Ibrahim Sharafeldin Mahmoud. “We will do our best…will win the gold, I hope.”
Germany faced and knocked out Argentina, Hungary and Denmark after the preliminary round. The semi-final against Denmark was their toughest match, but Germany still had the upper hand from the 10-minute mark. They are clearly in excellent form and ready to come up against the confident Egypt team for what will surely be an exciting match to decide a historic title.
Portugal aim for first Youth World Championship medal
While Denmark are the most successful team in the history of the Youth World Championship, with four medals won in seven editions, Portugal are only playing the competition for the second time and have never finished on the podium.
Portugal made their debut at the previous edition in 2017, and it was quite a campaign as they went all the way to the quarter-finals, ultimately placing seventh.
Denmark have won three trophies, in 2007, 2011 and 2013, then placed third at Georgia 2017.
Both teams were overpowered in their semi-final, and now face the difficult task of recovering from that disappointment and attempting to find their form again. The motivation of a medal will be a strong force however, and Portugal in particular are likely to find something extra with the prospect of taking their first medal – and proving their 12th place at the U18 EHF EURO 2018 was not reflectively of their strength.
If Denmark win the 3/4 match, it will be the second bronze medal for this generation, as they claimed the bronze at the U18 EHF EURO 2018. The bronze-medal game throws off at 15:30 local time in Skopje.