Mammoth day ends main round, four quarter-final berths up for grabs

04 Aug. 2022

Mammoth day ends main round, four quarter-final berths up for grabs

Denmark, Egypt, Iceland and the Republic of Korea are the teams who have already qualified for the quarter-final phase, after some superb handball, which saw them avoid defeat in the competition so far.

But the other four quarter-final spots are up for grabs at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship, with no room for mistake for contenders like Hungary and France.

When the main round will have concluded on Friday evening, three teams could have earned their maiden berth for the knock-out phase of the competition, as North Macedonia need only a point to join Egypt and Iceland.

In the President’s Cup, four European sides are bound to win their groups and progress to the 17-20 placement round, with three of them having already been sealed.

Main round Group I

  • Sweden vs Islamic Republic of Iran (18:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Iceland vs North Macedonia (20:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje) 

Iceland, who are playing their debut tournament at this level, booked a quarter-final ticket following a win against Islamic Republic of Iran. Now they are top of Group I with four points, one point ahead of second-placed North Macedonia. The home side could also have secured their progression on Wednesday if they had beaten Sweden, but the North Macedonians could only salvage a 20:20 draw thanks to a last-gasp goal.

However, they retain a good chance of progressing, as a win or a draw against Iceland will see them through to the quarter-finals. If North Macedonia lose, and Sweden beat Iran, the two teams will be level on points and goal difference will play a crucial role. Now, North Macedonia have +12 compared to Sweden’s -5. 

In turn, Iran have already lost a chance for a quarter-final spot, but a win against Sweden will lift them to third place in the group. In that case, they would head to the 9-12 placement round. 

Main round Group II

  • Denmark vs Egypt (14:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Portugal vs Croatia (16:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)

Two of the four teams that boast a four-game winning streak at North Macedonia 2022 will collide today in the Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, with the first place in Group II of the main round on the line, potentially avoiding one of the top favourites in the quarter-finals, as the second place in the group will meet the team that finishes second in Group IV, either Hungary, Norway or France.

Egypt have surely been the surprise package in the competition, as they have improved mightily after a 23rd place finish at Poland 2018. Their 138-goal tally is bettered only by Croatia, who have scored 139 goals in the competition, with a free-flowing attack that has been getting all the plaudits in the arenas.

However, Egypt’s position might be undermined by their roster problems. Due to fatigue, top scorer Mariam Omar Ibrahim had some issues at the end of the win against Portugal, while their second top scorer, Lojin Osama Abdalla, finished the previous match with a broken nose. Together, the two stars combined for 49 of the African side’s goals.

Denmark have been one of the top teams in the competition, with a strong defence and a superb back line, with Anne With Johansen and Julie Mathisen Scaglione combining for 54 goals throughout the tournament. The European side might be favoured here, but Egypt surely are a dark horse.

On the other hand, Portugal and Croatia, who are both at zero points, will clash for the right to play in the 9-12 placement round. The winner will seal the third spot, as Portugal could improve their best-ever finishing position, an 11th place in 2014. 

Main round Group III

  • Netherlands vs Republic of Korea (14:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Romania vs Germany (16:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)

On Thursday, Republic of Korea extended their winning run to four matches, as a hard-fought win against Romania saw them book a quarter-final spot. Kim Minseo, who scored 10 goals in that encounter, now tops the competition's scoring list with 37 goals. 

Following a win against Germany, the second-placed Netherlands also have a good chance to progress to the quarter-final. However, if they lose against Korea, and Romania beat Germany, the two teams will be level on three points, and the goal difference will be a key factor. Now, Netherlands have +6 and Romania -2, but this gap is not insurmountable.

With zero points, Germany have no more chance for a top-eight finish, but with a win against Romania, they may proceed to the 9-12 placement round. 

Main round Group IV

  • Norway vs Hungary (18:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Brazil vs France (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)

This might be the toughest group to predict, especially if Norway win against Hungary. However difficult and impossible it might seem, as the Scandinavian side look out of steam, their late comeback against France, which saw the gap down from eight to only two goals, might have set some alarms in Hungary’s camp. Despite boasting a four-game winning streak, the reigning European champions are not qualified and could even face elimination if they lose heavily.

If France win against Brazil, delivering the South American side their third loss in five games, then a three-way tie might ensue. With every team boasting two points, then the goal difference will be applied, as France have +2, Hungary +1 and Norway -3. Therefore, Norway need to win by four goals or more, or by three goals and score 23 goals or more to progress to the next phase.

President’s Cup Group I

  • Montenegro vs Senegal (10:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall B, Skopje)
  • Algeria vs Uzbekistan (13:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall B, Skopje)

After failing to reach the main round, Montenegro are trying to have success in the President’s Cup. With four points, they are top of Group I and will continue in the 17-20 placement round in case of a win or a draw against Senegal. In turn, the African team, who have two points under their belt, will try to at least keep their second position.

Algeria, who beat Senegal in an African derby on Wednesday to celebrate their maiden win at this level, are also on two points but are ranked third in the group. However, they have a good chance to climb up in the standings in case they beat Uzbekistan. The Asian side have lost all four games at the tournament so far, conceding 40.75 goals on average. But while their defence leaves much to be desired, Uzbekistan have been doing a decent job in attack – in particular their player Sevinch Erkabaeva, who is the second-best scorer of the competition with 36 goals. 

President’s Cup Group II

  • Faroe Islands vs Kazakhstan (10:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Austria vs India (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall B, Skopje)

Things are looking quite clear in this group, with the Faroe Islands sealing the first place if they do not lose against Kazakhstan. The Asian side enter the match on a three-game losing skid and have the second lowest average number of goals scored in the competition (23.3) in the three games they played so far, after winning the game against India 10:0, with their opponents failing to arrive in time for the match, due to travel issues.

Austria could be finishing second, provided they win against India, where they will be heavily favoured. The European side lost three matches in the preliminary round, but bounced back against Kazakhstan and will be looking to extend their streak, as they try to seal a better finishing position. However, this will be their worst-ever result at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship.

President’s Cup Group III

  • Guinea vs Slovakia (12:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Slovenia vs Switzerland (17:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall B, Skopje) 

The situation in this group is quite straightforward. Slovenia and Switzerland are level on four points, so the winner of their direct duel will continue to fight for the President's Cup in the 17-20 placement round, while the loser will head to the 21-24 placement round. In case of a draw, Switzerland will finish top of the group, as they have a better goal difference.

In turn, Guinea and Slovakia have lost all their matches at the tournament so far, but at least one of the rivals will earn their first points today. As the Slovaks have a better goal difference, even a draw will be enough for them to continue in the 25-28 placement round, while Guinea only need a win to finish third in the group. 

President’s Cup Group IV

  • Czech Republic vs Spain (10:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Uruguay vs Argentina (12:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)

Three of the four sides in this group – the Czech Republic, Argentina and Uruguay – are in the last four places in terms of the number of goals scored in the competition. Despite boasting a four-point tally, the Czech Republic side will be underdogs against Spain, who have displayed an interesting brand of handball, centred on the attack, but the quality of the opponents they faced really did a number on them. However, as they challenge for the President’s Cup, they eye their third win in a row at North Macedonia 2022, which can also help them seal first place in the group.

Argentina (94 goals) and Uruguay (77 goals) are the sides with the lowest average of goals scored per game in the competition, as they will face avoiding finishing last, as both have zero points until now. In the 2022 South and Central American Women’s Youth Handball Championship in April, Argentina won the mutual game, in a low-scoring game, 24:19, which projects to be the case also here.