Last quarter-finals spot to be decided in hectic day at North Macedonia 2024

24 Jun. 2024

Last quarter-finals spot to be decided in hectic day at North Macedonia 2024

The main round and the group phase of the 2024 IHF Women's Junior World Championship will conclude on Tuesday in Skopje, North Macedonia, with all the 32 teams in the competition on display.

Seven teams - Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, France, Sweden and Iceland - have already secured their positions in the quarter-finals, with only one spot available, which will be decided between Portugal and hosts North Macedonia on Tuesday.


13:30 CEST Netherlands vs Switzerland

Few would have thought that both the Netherlands and Switzerland would be between the seven teams with a flawless record after four matches at the 2024 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, but the two sides have ensured their quarter-finals berths after the first day of the main round, securing their fourth win in four matches.

Therefore, this match will decide the winner of the group, as both sides are on four points, but with Switzerland affording a draw, as they have a +10 goal difference, four goals more than the Dutch side, which has only managed a 20:17 win against Egypt two days ago.

Both the Netherlands and Switzerland are back in the quarter-finals for the second consecutive time, but Switzerland have truly impressed, having the fifth best attack so far, with an average of 34.75 goals scored per match, while also allowing the eighth lowest number of attempts on goal, 141.

On the other hand, the Netherlands have conceded the lowest number of goals, 72, an average of 18 per match, therefore this match is likely to be a low-scoring one, with plenty of defensive nous for both sides, which cause turnovers and then launch excellent fast breaks to punish the opponents.

15:45 CEST Romania vs Egypt

A generation brimming with potential, underlined by the bronze medal secured at the W19 EHF EURO 2023, saw Romania as one of the dark horses at North Macedonia 2024. But after two consecutive losses, 26:29 against the Netherlands and 26:27 against Switzerland, Romania are out of contention for a quarter-finals berth.

They can still secure a top-10 placement and the first step towards that finish is a good match against Egypt, where Romania can afford a draw, due to their superior goal difference, -4, as opposed to the African side’s -12. 

But Romania are on a downward slope, especially as their top scorers, Alisia Boiciuc and Diana Lixăndroiu, saw their production dwindling over the last two matches, with 20 and 19 goals respectively, after Boiciuc scored 11 in the opener against Brazil.

On the other side, Egypt have also lost twice in a row, against Switzerland and the Netherlands, with their main issues being the lack of consistency and the attacking output, where they have the lowest number of goals scored, 90, between the teams qualified for the main round.

With a win here, Egypt can ensure their best-ever finish at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, as they would head to the Placement Matches 9/12, with their best finish being 15th at Slovenia 2022.

13:30 CEST Hungary vs Denmark

Two years ago, at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, Hungary finished third and Denmark came second, proving their credentials. Last summer, at the W19 EHF EURO 2023, the two teams clashed again, first in the main round and for the second time in the final.

Both times, Hungary proved why they deserved to win the title, taking a 41:23 win in the main round and a 35:26 win in the final, clinching the gold medal. But this time around, both sides are without their best players – the MVP of the W19 EHF EURO 2023, centre back Petra Simon and without the top goal scorer of the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, Denmark’s left back Julie Scaglione.

So far, both Denmark and Hungary have won all their matches in emphatic fashion, with the reigning European champions conceding the second lowest number of goals, 73, only one more than the Netherlands, while also scoring the largest number of goals, 156.

The numbers speak for themselves, with Hungary being clear the big favourite for the title so far, but Denmark are no pushovers. Securing wins against Norway (33:25) and the Republic of Korea (29:23) was not a walk in the park, but the Scandinavian side still have to prove themselves by beating the reigning European champions.

With both sides on four points, Denmark can only win the group by beating Hungary, as they have a +14 goals difference, six goals less than their opponents on Tuesday.

15:45 CEST Republic of Korea vs Norway

Reigning world champions Norway are eliminated from contention after losses against both Denmark and Hungary, which means they will concede their title at the end of the competition.

Norway’s main issue has been the defence, as they conceded at least 30 goals in each of the two matches, but they will hope to still finish in the top-10, which they can do provided they secure a win here.

On the other hand, the Republic of Korea have conceded too many turnovers in this competition, 63, the fourth largest number between main round teams, with the second place being Norway’s, with 73. 

The Asian side could simply not replicate their performance from the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, where they secured the title, as they still aim for a top-10 finish, as they have only missed this feature once, in 2022, when they ended up 19th. 

18:00 CEST Sweden vs France

Two of the favourites for the title will collide in the Jane Sandanski Sports Center on Tuesday, when Sweden and France, both with four wins in four matches, will face off in the decider for the first place in the standings in Group III of the main round.

So far, France have been more consistent, and have the edge, with a +29 goal difference, as opposed to Sweden’s +15, but the Scandinavian side proved that they can be machine-like at times, as they delivered crucial wins against Czechia and Germany (26:25).

The two teams match quite equally, with France scoring 131, as opposed to Sweden’s 130, but the Scandinavian side is the team with the largest number of steals so far, 40, relying heavily on defence and causing turnovers to fuel their fast breaks. However, France fared better in that department, with 31 converted fast breaks, as opposed to Sweden’s 19.

On the other hand, France’s consistency surprises, with no player scoring more than 16 goals and being in the top-50 of the top goal scorer standings, while Sweden have Thea Kylberg and Stina Wiksfors on the 46th and 47th places, with 17 goals.

France and Sweden are also neck-and-neck in terms of their goalkeepers’ efficiency, with Sweden ranking fourth, with 40.1%, followed closely by France in the sixth place, with 39.4%.

20:15 CEST People’s Republic of China vs Germany

Both sides have lost two matches so far, but Germany were close both against France (27:29) and against Sweden (25:26), missing out on a draw in the latter match, the opener of the main round, after left back Nieke Kühne failed to score with a one-on-one shot with eight seconds to go.

Therefore, Germany’s chances of progression for the quarter-finals are gone, but the European side is surely aiming to end the main round on a high, with a win against China, which would see them head to the Placement Matches 9/12.

The People’s Republic of China are surely one of the surprise packages of the competition, especially after their win against Czechia, which sent them in the main round, but clashes against strong European opponents saw the Asian side lose in double-digits.

Nevertheless, coach Suzana Lazovic will be happy to see her side compete for some minutes, despite double-digits losses against Sweden (24:38) and France (15:42), as China are the team with the largest number of turnovers between the teams qualified for the main round, 83.

18:00 CEST Portugal vs Iceland

Group IV is the only one where one spot for the quarter-finals is still available, as only Iceland have secured safe passage to the knockout phase, with their 35:27 win against Montenegro, with left wing Lilia Ágústsdóttir scoring 13 goals.

Iceland have made it to the quarter-finals of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship for the first time in history, while also opening the competition with four wins in a row for the maiden time, as they had a perfect performance so far.

However, facing Portugal could be their sternest test, as their opponents need to win or draw to be sure of their place in the next phase of the competition, after the 28:28 draw against hosts North Macedonia on Monday.

Right back Luciana Rebelo is tied for the fourth place in the top goal scorer standings, with 27 goals, despite not playing as much as usual, but Portugal need a more well-rounded appearance if they are to stop Iceland’s streak, as they also aim their maiden quarter-finals place in the world handball flagship competition for this age category.

20:15 CEST Montenegro vs North Macedonia

Hosts North Macedonia pushed above their weight so far at the 2024 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, but their fate is out of their hands, after the loss against Iceland in the preliminary round, which means they need help to secure a quarter-finals berth.

They will know if they are in or out at the time of this match against Montenegro, but even a Portugal loss against Iceland will set a enormous task for the hosts, which are now at -12 goal difference, as opposed to Portugal’s +3.

Nevertheless, Montenegro proved that they can be beaten, as they lost the last two matches, against Iceland and Portugal, but they can be a dangerous side, with right back Jelena Vukčević leading the top goal scorer standings, with 43 goals, a whopping 13 goals more than Angola’s Bernadeth Belo and Denmark’s Matilde Vestergaard.

9:00 CEST Islamic Republic of Iran vs Chile

Both teams are yet to register their first win at North Macedonia 2024, as they started the President’s Cup with defeats and are on four-match losing runs. The winner of their clash will proceed to the Placement Matches 25/28, while the losing side will go to the Placement Matches 29/32.

In case of a draw, the Islamic Republic of Iran will secure the third place, as they have a better goal difference. Despite losing 23:26, the Asian team fought hard on Sunday against Tunisia, as Fatemeh Merikh netted 14 times and increased her tally in the tournament to 27 goals.

In fact, Merikh netted as many times as the entire Chilean team on the same day, as they lost 14:28 to Brazil in a South American clash. Therefore, Chile need to improve their attacking game, otherwise it will be very hard for them to finally open their account in the competition. 

11:15 CEST Brazil vs Tunisia

After two defeats early in the competition, Brazil’s results have improved. The South American side ended the group stage with a 30:22 win against the Islamic Republic of Iran before taking another victory, 28:14 against Chile, in the opening match of the President’s Cup. 

The South American side leads Group I with four points and therefore stay in contention for the consolation trophy. Even a draw against Tunisia will be enough for them to go to the Placement Matches 17/20, while the African team, who have a slightly worse goal difference, only need a win to reach that goal.

Just like Brazil, Tunisia won their two most recent matches at North Macedonia 2024, and Nour Mariem Dabbabi was hard to stop, scoring 13 goals against Chile and eight against the Islamic Republic of Iran. If the right wing has a similar impact against Brazil, the Africans will certainly have a chance to win on Tuesday. 

9:00 CEST Argentina vs Japan

In their opening match at the President’s Cup, Argentina struggled but ultimately defeated Chinese Taipei by two goals, 27:25. Left back Sofia Gull, who led the South American team’s attack in this match and scored eight goals, increased her tally in the tournament to 25 goals.

Now her team will try to put on another solid performance against Japan, who are on a two-game winning run. In their last match of the group stage, the Asians eased past Chinese Taipei, 43:20, and then they started the President’s Cup with a victory against Mexico, 47:12, which was their largest-ever win at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship. 

Overall, Japan have scored 139 goals in four matches at North Macedonia 2024 (37.75 on average), which an impressive result for a team who failed to reach the main round. The Asians have enough attacking power in their squad, so it will be quite challenging for Argentina to beat them. 

16:00 CEST Mexico vs Chinese Taipei

With just 46 goals, Mexico have the third lowest number of goals in the entire competition following the group stage, and they continued to struggle in their opening game of the President’s Cup, losing 12:47 against Japan.

Just like the Mexicans, Chinese Taipei have been defeated in all their four encounters at North Macedonia 2024, but the Asians have shown some signs of improvement. On Sunday, they played their best match in the tournament so far, putting pressure on Argentina during the entire game before losing 25:27.

That performance must have boosted Chinese Taipei’s confidence, and now the team, who are back at this level after a 16-year hiatus, hope to finally claim their first win in the current tournament, which will allow them to proceed to the Placement Matches 25/28. 

11:15 CEST Czechia vs Spain

Clearly frustrated by missing on on a main round spot, Czech Republic did not show their best qualities in their opening President's Cup against Serbia, losing 26:27. The Czech team started that game with a 4:0 run, but were unable to maintain that level throughout the entire match and ultimately suffered their third consecutive loss.

Now Czechia are second-placed in the group, and they will most likely need a big win over Spain to climb to the first place and stay in fight for the President's Cup. However, it is a hard task, as the Spanish team have been looking better overall.

In the previous stage, they finished third in a very competitive Group F behind France and Spain, but the Spaniards demonstrated their fire power at the start of the consolation tournament, defeating Algeria 44:14 and scoring their largest-ever number of goals in a single match at this level.

19:00 CEST Algeria vs Serbia

After three double-digit losses at the group stage, Serbia did not have much to boast, yet they are determined to finish the 2024 IHF Women's Junior Word Championship on a high. In their first encounter at the President's Cup, the Balkan side finally made their fans happy, as they beat Czechia.

Now Serbia are determined to take another victory, which may help them to climb to the second position in the group and progress to the Placement Matches 21/24. And it looks like they have a good chance to do it, given Algeria's results in the competition so far.

In the opening stage, the Africans had the least effective attack among all 32 participants of the tournament, scoring just 39 goals in three encounters. And Algeria did not really improve in the match versus Spain, netting only 14 times, so it will be hard for them to hold Serbia back. 

10:00 CEST Guinea vs Angola 

Both African teams retain a chance to fight for the consolation trophy, and the winner of their mutual encounter will progress to the Placement Matches 17/20, while the losing team will fight for the places 21/24. In case of a draw, Angola will hold an advantage, as they have a better goal difference.

On Monday, Guinea somewhat struggled in the match against the United States of America, but ultimately earned their second win in the tournament, 22:15 against the United States of America. In turn, Angola showed a confident game against Uzbekistan, cruising to a  43:17 win, as their best scorer Bernadeth Belo netted seven times and increased her tally at North Macedonia 2024 to 30 goals.

Last year, the teams faced off in the group stage of the 2023 CAHB Women’s Junior African Championship, and Angola took a clear 31:22 win on the way to the champion’s title. Now Guinea, who earned bronze at that event, hope to take revenge, which will be quite challenging. 

13:00 CEST Uzbekistan vs United States of America

So far, both sides have failed to take any points at North Macedonia 2024, but at least one of them, or even both in case of a draw, are certain to end their losing run on Tuesday. The winner of this duel will go to the Placement Matches 25/28, while the losing side will finish the tournament fighting for the places 29/32.

Uzbekistan were close to taking points in their last group match, where they lost against Guinea by just two goals, 28:30. However, the Asian side were completely outplayed by Angola at the start of the President’s Cup, as they were defeated by 26 goals.

The United States of America have struggled in attack throughout the current edition of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, scoring just 58 goals in four matches. However, their goalkeeper Lani Gronwald had an excellent performance against Guinea on Monday, recording 18 shots for a 48% save efficiency. If she has a similar impact against Uzbekistan, the USA will definitely have a chance to celebrate a long-awaited victory.