More quarter-finals berths ready to be sealed in second day of the main round at North Macedonia 2024

23 Jun. 2024

More quarter-finals berths ready to be sealed in second day of the main round at North Macedonia 2024

Four quarter-finals spots were sealed in the first day of the main round phase at the 2024 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, with other four being potentially sealed on Monday, when Groups III and IV enter the fray.

The President’s Cup also continues in the Boris Trajkovski and Jane Sandanski Sports Centers on Monday, with four matches scheduled, which will also have a say in the final standings.

16:15 CEST Sweden vs Germany

Sweden, which start with two points, have a big chance to progress to the quarter-finals, but they will face their toughest opponent so far, Germany, which are facing a must-win situation, starting their main round group with zero points, after the 27:29 loss against France.

The Scandinavian side has been consistent, but did not really shine in their wins against China (38:24), Algeria (38:13) and Czechia (28:24) and it will be interesting to see how they adapt their attack to a strong defence, as Germany proved to have a big potential in their wins against Serbia (39:18) and Spain (29:27), only to collapse in the end of the match against France (29:27).

Sweden have been one of the sides to impress most on fast breaks, converting 18 of their 20 chances so far, with a 90% efficiency, and will likely aim to make it to the quarter-finals for the fifth time in the last seven editions of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, after narrowly missing out on a medal at Slovenia 2022, when they came fourth.

18:30 CEST France vs People’s Republic of China

France are on the cusp to secure a quarter-finals berth at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship for the first time since 2018, with a win against the People’s Republic of China being crucial in the European side’s bid for extending their hopes for the title at North Macedonia 2024.

So far, France have delivered three wins against three European teams – Germany, Serbia and Spain – therefore the match against China will be the first against a non-European side, but Eric Baradat’s side will be favoured, especially as they delivered some excellent defensive performances, which will buoy France before the main round.

A win against China is a must, as Suzana Lazovic’s team is the surprise package of this phase of the competition, making it against all odds, with wins over Czechia and Algeria. Nevertheless, China, one of the three non-European sides making the main round, have conceded a 24:38 loss against Sweden in the first match, therefore being the underdogs in this match.

16:15 CEST Portugal vs North Macedonia

North Macedonia have made it through to the main round with a 28:24 win against Angola, but the hosts will have their work cut out against Portugal, facing a must-win situation if they want to progress to the quarter-finals, which would be their best performance in the competition since 2003, when they also hosted the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship.

Portugal have won all three matches so far at North Macedonia 2024, including a 34:31 win against Montenegro, which helped them start this phase of the competition with two points, a huge advantage considering that, on paper, they are the favourites against both North Macedonia and Iceland, their opponents in the next two days.

Backs Constança Sequeira and Luciana Rebelo have been nothing short of outstanding for Portugal, combining for 38 goals. In fact, Portugal have the third best attack in terms of goals scored per match, with 36.6 goals scored in their three matches so far, while North Macedonia have scored only 25.6 goals per match. 

With more experience and depth, Portugal look set to take their fourth win in a row at North Macedonia, which would be their best-ever start at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship. On the other hand, a loss would see North Macedonia virtually eliminated, needing a miracle to progress.

18:30 CEST Iceland vs Montenegro

So far, Montenegro have the best attack in the competition, scoring 40.6 goals per match in the preliminary round, but Iceland have excelled in defence, with their goalkeepers stopping 38 shots, for a 40.4% saving efficiency, the second best at North Macedonia 2024.

This is a do-or-die match for Igor Markovic’s side, with Montenegro starting with zero points in Group IV, due to their loss against Portugal, 31:34, therefore they are in a must-win situation against Iceland, which start with two points, courtesy of their win against North Macedonia.

Iceland did not make the quarter-finals in the world handball flagship competition at this age category so far, with their best finish being the 10th place at Hungary 2018, therefore a win here would set them on a unbeaten track, and virtually secure their best-ever finish in the competition.

However, Montenegro can throw a spanner into Iceland’s works, as they also have the top scorer of the competition so far, captain Jelena Vukcevic, who scored 30 goals, an average of 10 goals per match, being unstoppable at times.

11:45 CEST Czechia vs Serbia

Both European teams can hardly be satisfied with their performance at the group stage. Czechia opened the competition with a win against Algeria, but then surprisingly lost to the People's Republic of China, and another defeat against Sweden saw them missing out on a main round berth. 

In turn, Serbia had been drawn into a very competitive group F with three fellow European sides Germany, France and Spain, which hampered their chances of progressing. And the Balkan side were unable to challenge their rivals, as they all lost all three encounters by at least 11 goals.

Serbia struggled in attack, as only four teams – the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mexico, Algeria and the United States of America – scored fewer goals in the group stage. Their defence was also vulnerable, but the Balkan side are determined to do a better job against Czechia, who are also eager to prove their quality and win as many remaining games as possible. 

14:00 CEST Spain vs Algeria

Spain would have probably progressed from another group, but in Group F, they lost 25:30 against France and 27:29 against Germany, so even a big win against Serbia (32:17) could not send them through to the main round.

So the Spanish team ended up in the President's Cup, and now they will fight for the 17th place, which they actually took six year ago at Hungary 2028, which was their last participation in the IHF Women's Junior World Championship.

Spain start this phase with two points, and they are expected to earn two more against Algeria. The African side, which us back at this level after a 16-year break, finished bottom of Group E, losing all three matches against Czechia, Sweden and the People's Republic of China.

Algeria had the least effective attack at the entire group stage, finishing it with just 39 goals. To get some better results at North Macedonia 2024, they should improve their shot efficiency, which does not seem to be an easy task for the Africans. 

11:45 CEST Guinea vs United States of America

After the losses against Portugal and Montenegro, Guinea registered their first win at North Macedonia 2024, as a late surge saw them beating Uzbekistan 30:28. The African team finished third in Group E and therefore carried two points into the President's Cup.

Two years ago at Slovenia 2022, Guinea ranked 23rd at their debut IHF Women's Junior World Championship, as they drew with the Islamic Republic of Iran, beat India and got a walkover win against Austria. Now the African side want to finish in a higher position and prove once again that the handball in the country is on the rise.

Guinea seem to have a fair chance to win against the United States of America, which lost all their three matches in Group H. The North Americans had the second least effective attack at the previous stage, scoring just 43 goals, but they showed some signs of improvement on Saturday, when they scored 20 goals against Iceland – and they hope to do better against Guinea. 

14:00 CEST Angola vs Uzbekistan

The African champions Angola were fighting hard for a main round berth until their last group match. However, on Saturday they came up short against home side North Macedonia, and a 24:28 defeat in that crucial encounter saw them going to the President's Cup.

Now the Africans are determined to beat Uzbekistan, and they have some fire power to reach that goal. While centre back Jorcela Tumba scored 11 goals in an opening match against Iceland, left back Bernadeth Belo had a special impact in the next two encounters against the USA and North Macedonia, also netting 11 times in each of the games and climbing to the third position in the tournament's scoring chart after the group phase. 

Uzbekistan also had a chance to claim a win at the previous stage, as they led against Guinea for a long time, but ultimately lost by two goals. Starting the President's Cup with no points in hand, the Asian side hopes to improve their results in the game to come and also rely on some prolific scorers like Sarbinaz Saparbaeva, Sabina Mullaeva and Sevinch Erkabaeva, who combined for 52 of 85 Uzbekistan goals scored so far.