Two top-of-the-group duels to close the group phase in Hanover and Magdeburg

22 Jun. 2023

Two top-of-the-group duels to close the group phase in Hanover and Magdeburg

GETEC Arena and Swiss Life Hall are having a farewell to the group phase with new mouth-watering clashes. The day will be closed with two battles for the first spot in the group as Spain take on the Faroe Islands in Magdeburg, and at the same time, at 20:15 CEST, Portugal will enter the fray with Brazil. In Groups A and B, two teams are eyeing one spot in the Main Round.

Group A

  • 15:30 CEST Croatia vs United States of America

After a narrow win over France in the first round, Croatia had a tougher task against Poland. They made a turnaround after trailing by two, but Poland scored to tie in the last second of the game. Despite dropping the win, Croatia secured a Main Round place and can still finish first in the group.

Croatia's strongest links are wings, who were the most efficient players in the first two games, and while their defence is solid, especially when playing 5-1, they are still waiting for goalkeepers to make the difference.

The game against the United States of America can be the right thing for head coach Andrija Nikolić to test all the players ahead of the crucial part of the competition. The USA can dream of the first win, but to be fair, they are not favourites against better-experienced Croatia.

Their performance against France was not at the desired level, scoring only 17 goals with overall shot efficiency below 45%. Brothers Benjamin and Oliver Edwards, gaining valuable experience in Hungary, remain their top scorers. Interestingly, Benjamin is three years younger (born in 2006).

  • 18:00 CEST France vs Poland

It is a do-or-die game for France, as they must win to progress further to the Main Round. The 26:27 defeat by Croatia in the first round could cost them dearly, but they can rely on Léo Villain, the young goalkeeper who has already been on the same level in test matches.

What could be an issue for France are turnovers and technical errors they had in crucial moments of the match, and if they put them to a minimum, they can beat Poland. And the French guys are in a good mood after an easy-going 45:17 win over the USA.

The Polish side showed an easy flow of the game and great fighting spirit, especially in the closing minutes against Croatia. Down by one five seconds before the buzzer, with a fast pace and three passes, they scored from 14 meters.

"From the perspective of the end of the game against Croatia, where we had four minutes left and minus two goals, I think every coach would take a draw at the end of the game like that. The task remains the same. Against France, we have to throw everything on the line and beat them if we want to be in the top 16 at the World Championship," said Polish head coach Zygmunt Kamys.

Kamys has a good back court line and solid defence, but the same issue they had against Croatia, stopping powerful shots from nine meters, could be the problem against France also. However, good tactic solutions from the players at the moment could lift Poland past France.

Group B

  • 13:15 CEST Tunisia vs Libya

The third team of the 2022 African Men's Junior Handball Championship have a chance to go into the Main Round if they beat Libya. Tunisia are in a good spot after beating Algeria, their direct opponents, 27:22, and they will give all their efforts to beat Libya as well.

Considering their last results, Tunisia are a more experienced team, having a good background with the senior team. Libya have a hard comeback after qualifying for the first time since 2009.

Right at the start of the competition, they had to face powerhouse Germany and were only able to score 14 goals. A better attacking performance was shown against Algeria but failed to keep up for the whole 60 minutes, losing 19:27.

Tunisia have the advantage in the game, and it will be interesting to see if Libya can find the missing strength and put up a surprise in Hanover on Friday.

  • 18:00 CEST Algeria vs Germany

Germany need to win to confirm their spot in the Main Round, even though they are virtually through after two straight wins. The German side was flawless in the first two games at the competition, proving the status as co-hosts of the World Championship.

Co-hosts are eyeing a trophy at the competition, and they are warming up for the crucial part of the competition after having easy games against Tunisia and Libya. The strong back line need to repeat the same attacking-outing, and they will not have a problem against Algeria.

"The clear goal is that we win against Algeria and move into the main round, nothing else," said line player Justus Fischer for handball.net.

Algeria still have a chance of going through to the Main Round, but they need extra luck on their side. Not only do they have to beat Germany, but they are also relying on Tunisia's result. No matter how they end up, they will have a hard time repeating their best result, when they finished 12th in 1987 and 2001.

Group C

  • 15:30 CEST Kuwait vs Costa Rica

Kuwait and Costa Rica are searching for their first win at Germany/Greece 2023. Despite two tough defeats at their debutant World Championship, Costa Rica are eager to show their best performances on the last day of the group phase to have an easier go in the President's Cup.

Both sides failed to progress further to the Main Round, and they will go into President Cup; the main question is, who is taking important points with them? Kuwait are maybe stronger defensive-wise, not allowing their opponents to overrun them while having a somewhat efficient attack.

Costa Rica have two tough duels behind, losing to Brazil 17:38 followed by a 21:52 defeat by Portugal, proving their 4th place at the 2022 South and Central American Men's Junior Handball Championship was hard-earned.

  • 20:15 CEST Portugal vs Brazil

"Língua Portuguesa" will close the group phase in Hanover as two top teams will fight for the first spot and important two points for the main round. Portugal are on a high after two easy wins over Kuwait and Costa Rica, especially after netting 52 times in the last match, setting a new record in IHF Men's Junior World Championship history.

Even without the Mota da Costa brothers, they are convincing with amazing Pedro Oliveira and Andre Sousa, delivering fast breaks with ease.

"We achieved our first objective, which was to reach the Main Round; in two days we will try to achieve the next objective, which will be to pass with two points. Brazil will be a difficult opponent, as I mentioned before, they are a team with a much higher level, compared to the two we have faced so far, but we are sure that, if we are at our best level, we will be able to achieve our goal", said Pedro Oliveira for portal.fpa.pt.

Portugal will be a great test for the Brazilian side, who also had two inexperienced opponents in the group. At the beginning of the competition, they beat Bahrain 35:17 and had a little bit more struggle with Kuwait, finishing it 29:20.

Left wing Hugo Bryan Monta da Silva and right wing Michael Da Silva Quintino have been outstanding for Brazil, scoring 27 in total, and thus the main weapon against Brazil.

 

Angola

 


Group D

  • 13:15 CEST Japan vs Angola

Japan hope their fast-paced handball will be crucial to get to the first win at the competition. Against Angola, they want to get to the points which will be crucial for the President's Cup while in pursuit of their second-best performance at the IHF Men's Junior World Championship.

Angola's lack of experience proved to be the real issue, as technical errors and the slow flow of the ball are not on the desired level. Among the players, only three proved to be the most efficient ones - José Patrício De Carvalho Chicola, Pedro José Domingos and Ruben Gonçalves Ledi Jose.

Japan's most prominent player is definitely centre back Naoki Fujisaka, who scored 18 already but he is also taking a lot of shots, 30 in total.

  • 20:15 CEST Spain vs Faroe Islands

Even though the Faroe Islands are often called the dark horse of the competition, the team showed their excellence and the good job they are doing among the small population. The first real test will come when they meet with Spain, the current European champions.

The Faroe side are strongly depending on Elias Ellefsen Á Skipagotu and Hákun West Av Teigum, who are their dynamic duo at this IHF Men's Junior World Championship. Eying the third straight win at the competition and first place in the group, they are even more motivated, and the Spaniards will have to give more than in the first two games to stop them.

In the second game against Japan goals galore in a fast-paced game without strong defensive performances. However, in the game against Spain, the defence could be crucial as well as stopping the Spanish fastbreak.

Spain took it easy against Angola on the second day, winning 34:28 without much stress but still far away from their top performance. The top scorers are still left wing Marti Soler and right wing Antonio Martínez, and it will be interesting to see which of these two fast teams will impose their rhythm.