29 Jul. 2022
Ten days of handball are ahead of us, as the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship finally returns after a four-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the first-ever IHF Women’s Youth World Championship with 32 teams at the start, with 116 games spread over the next 10 days, deciding who will be the new world champions. This a question that will find its answer in Skopje, as three venues host the 32 best sides in the world right now.
- Montenegro vs Algeria (10:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
- Sweden vs Iceland (12:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center, Skopje)
Two teams with roughly the same style face off at the start of Group A, as Sweden meet Iceland, trying to undo their results from the friendly matches and start fresh at North Macedonia 2022. The Scandinavian side conceded three hard losses – 17:31 against Hungary, 17:28 against Norway and 19:22 against Denmark – in the Scandinavian Open, but their group, despite boasting two European sides, could have been harder.
Coached by one of the top players in the country’s history, Maja Savic, Montenegro will look to bring the same intensity and grit in defence as they displayed every time they took the court. Playing against a rookie in Algeria in their first game of the competition surely will help, as Montenegro are definitely favoured in the match.
- Islamic Republic of Iran vs Uzbekistan (16:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
- North Macedonia vs Senegal (20:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
Big expectations are earmarked for the hosts, who will look to improve their best finish in the competition, the 17th place secured in 2014 when they also hosted the tournament. A win against Senegal in the opening match will be a must, but progressing to the main round from a group where they are favourites is going to ensure completing the objective.
In the other match of the day, one of the eight debutants in the competition, the Islamic Republic of Iran, face Uzbekistan in what could bring their first-ever win at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship. The two sides faced in March at the 2022 Asian Women's Youth Handball Championship when Iran took a 44:35 win against their next opponents.
- Portugal vs Faroe Islands (13:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center Hall 2, Skopje)
- Denmark vs Austria (16:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center, Skopje)
Denmark topped off the Scandinavian Open with wins against Sweden and Hungary, but the loss against Norway is definitely going to put some serious questions to the coaching staff. However, the Scandinavian side are surely favourites in this group, which they will start against Austria.
On the other hand, the Faroe Islands dream of a superb debut against Portugal, but their lack of experience could be their undoing. Finishing 10th at the W17 EHF EURO 2021, Portugal will be looking to deliver their best result yet at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, currently the 11th place, also in North Macedonia, in 2014.
- Kazakhstan vs India (10:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center Hall 2, Skopje)
- Croatia vs Egypt (10:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center, Skopje)
Egypt might be one of the dark horses of the competition, after securing two wins in friendly matches against both Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which will surely see Croatia closely monitoring and analysing their first opponents in the competition. While the two favourites in the group face off, Kazakhstan and India will also play an important match, as they try to improve their finishing position.
UPDATE: The match Kazakhstan vs India will not be played as India did not arrive in time due to flight issues. Kazakhstan record a 10:0 forfait win and two points.
- Romania vs Guinea (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center Hall 2, Skopje)
- Netherlands vs Slovenia (18:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center, Skopje)
Eight years ago, at North Macedonia 2014, Romania won their first-ever gold medal in the competition, under the guidance of Aurelian Roșca. The experienced coach, who has developed plenty of stars in the past decades, is back at the helm of the team and will look to start fresh against Guinea.
On the other hand, the Netherlands, who will be coached in this tournament by Ricardo Clarijs, the mastermind behind the bronze medal last month at the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, is surely looking to bring the same intensity to the table. The Netherlands have won a single medal in the competition, bronze in 2010.
- Switzerland vs Republic of Korea (17:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center Hall 2, Skopje)
- Germany vs Slovakia (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Center, Skopje)
Germany will be entering North Macedonia 2022 with huge expectations, after their second-place finish at the W17 EHF EURO 2021. However, a four-goal loss in a friendly game against Spain left them scratching their heads as to what needs to be improved before the start of the competition. A win against Slovakia is a must, especially as Germany want to emulate their performances from eight years ago when they finished second at North Macedonia 2014.
The Republic of Korea have traditionally been one of the teams to watch at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, having never finished outside the top 10 in the previous seven editions played. Facing a rookie in Switzerland means that the Asian side should be favoured, but the European side impressed in their last outings, despite conceding tough losses against Spain and Germany in friendly matches.
- Norway vs Brazil (14:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
- Czech Republic vs Uruguay (14:30, Jane Sandanski Sports Center, Skopje)
Norway are definitely favoured in this group but will have the toughest start, when they meet the 2022 South and Central American Youth Championship winners, Brazil. Norway recorded wins against Denmark and Sweden in the Scandinavian Open but lost heavily against Hungary, yet they will be the favourites in this game.
On the other hand, the Czech Republic face an inexperienced Uruguay team, but their friendly match results were totally unsatisfactory. Two losses against Egypt rang the alarm, but the improvement failed to materialise when France beat the Czech Republic in two more friendly matches, 39:17 and 33:22.
- France vs Spain (12:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
- Hungary vs Argentina (18:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Center, Skopje)
The most balanced group in the competition throws off with a fiery clash between France and Spain, two sides that have definitely relied on defence in the past and will try to cancel each other. After a loss against the Netherlands in a friendly game, France recorded four wins, two against Croatia and two against the Czech Republic and, therefore, the spirits will be high.
On the other hand, the silver medallists from Poland 2018, and Hungary, will be heavily favoured against Argentina, as the W17 EHF EURO 2021 winners will have no room for mistake in a group where every mistake will count immensely.