Faroe Islands claim otherworldly win against Germany, while Portugal deliver fiery comeback against Hungary
07 Aug. 2023
Debutants Faroe Islands were handed a huge lifeline at the 2023 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship after they delivered one of the biggest shocks of the competition, with a 30:28 win against Germany, drastically improving their chances for a quarter-finals berth in Group IV of the main round. Once again, centre back Oli Mittun, the top goal scorer in the competition, was impossible to stop, finishing the match with 13 goals and 11 assists.
Another shock was delivered in the form of a masterclass of a comeback by Portugal, who were down six goals in the first half, only to cancel that lead and turn the tide late in the second half to complicate matters even further in Group I, after their 31:29 win against Hungary.
In Group II, reigning champions Egypt also won for the fourth time in a row at Croatia, 38:23 against Brazil, while favourites Denmark confirmed their status, with a 37:30 win over North Macedonia in Group III, boosting their chances to progress to the knockout phase.
- Group I
Hungary vs Portugal 29:31 (16:11)
A true defensive masterclass, which saw Portugal muster only four shots in the first 14 minutes, looked to be the backbone of Hungary’s fourth consecutive win at the 2023 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, a win which would have brought the European powerhouse even closer to a quarter-finals berth.
In fact, Portugal needed five minutes and 50 seconds to score their first goal and 14 minutes and five seconds to score their third, with Hungary dominating, with left back Tamás Kovács in absolutely superb form, outscoring Portugal all by himself, with five goals in that span.
A double suspension for Hungary delivered the first problems for the European side, as Portugal kept them out for more than five minutes, managing to close down the gap to only four goals (10:6), knowing fully well that another loss would stop any kind of ambition of a place in the quarter-finals, after their previous loss against Croatia in the preliminary round.
While Hungary built a six-goal advantage in the first half and looked in full control of the match, a strong start in the second half for Portugal cut it to only one goal (18:17), as Hungary constantly relied on Kovács and fellow back Kristóf Csörgo, who scored 13 of their team’s first 18 goals.
Portugal did tie the game (19:19), but Kovács was absolutely unstoppable, finishing the match with 14 goals, double his overall tally from the preliminary round, when he had only seven goals. On the back of his performance, Hungary regained control of the match and went on to create another three-goal lead (24:21) with 13 minutes to go.
But Portugal had other ideas. Backs Tiago Sousa and Joao Lourenco each scored six goals, delivering an 11:4 run to finish the game, as Hungary looked totally out of sorts and completely lost the plot in the dying minutes of the game, to waste their effort and concede a painful 29:31 loss.
Dubbed as one of the favourites for their first-ever medal at the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, Hungary are in a tough spot now, having lost against Portugal and facing hosts Croatia in the last game of the main round on Tuesday.
With their win, Portugal find themselves in a better spot but will need a win against Slovenia on Tuesday in order to have chances to progress to the next phase.
hummel Player of the Match: Tamás Kovács (Hungary)
- Group II
Egypt vs Brazil 38:23 (19:10)
Egypt needed only eight minutes to create a large enough gap and take all the air out of Brazil’s wings, as the reigning champions used a 5:0 unanswered run to create a 7:2 lead, as the South American side failed to get anything going in attack, due to easy misses, including three one-on-one shots and a penalty, and a plethora of turnovers.
On the back of this, goalkeeper Youssef Salama truly dominated between the posts for Egypt, with seven saves and a 53% saving efficiency in the first 17 minutes, helping create an even bigger gap for the African powerhouse.
As wing Yassin Salem and back Mohamed Elbattawi each scored four goals, Egypt powered through a 15:6 lead after only 19 minutes in what shaped up to be their clearest win at Croatia 2023, a kind reminder of their strength and how good a team they can be.
There was nothing Brazil could do to mount a comeback, as Salem and Elbattawi continued to score at free will, combining for 15 goals throughout the game. At the same time, Salama was replaced by Youssef Ahmed, who delivered another masterclass between the posts, with six saves for a 43% saving efficiency.
The gap only continued to grow in the second half, Egypt looking too strong and too well-polished for Brazil as they marched towards their fourth consecutive win, their clearest so far at the 2023 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship (38:23).
The overwhelming Egypt win saw the African side make it four out of four at Croatia 2023, becoming big favourites to qualify in Group II, now earning their berth for the quarter-finals, provided Spain do not lose in the next match against Czechia.
On the other hand, Brazil, who started the group with zero points, have drastically diminished any chance of progression before their next game against Czechia, needing a miracle to progress to the knockout phase.
hummel Player of the Match: Yassin Salem (Egypt)
- Group III
Denmark vs North Macedonia 37:30 (18:12)
Three-time champions Denmark maintained their perfect record at the competition, winning their fourth straight match in style. Against North Macedonia, the Nordic side were dominant for much of the game, so the result was quite logical.
If Norway beat Austria in the same group later today, both Nordic sides will qualify for the quarter-final with one group match left. In this case, North Macedonia, who have zero points, will lose a chance to go through and will end up in the Placement Matches 9-16.
North Macedonia led 1:0 and 2:1 early in the match, but it did not take long for the Danes to seize the initiative. By the 10th minute, they already led 8:4 and did not slow down afterwards, as a six-goal gap at half-time made them feel quite confident.
Denmark did not even need goalkeepers' heroics in this match, as Malte Johnsson Eichhorst and Simon Meinby Lundorf combined for just seven saves. However, the Danes were dominant in attack, as 12 of their players put their names on the scoresheet.
Tobias Tombak and Lasse Sunesen Vilhelmsen became their top scorers with seven goals each, helping Denmark to maintain their lead. North Macedonia should be credited for fighting until the end, as they reduced the gap to 28:31 with five minutes left, but Denmark held their nerve to take an important victory.
hummel Player of the Match: Tobias Tombak (Denmark)
- Group IV
Germany vs Faroe Islands 28:30 (10:12)
The Faroe Islands ended Germany's perfect streak at Croatia 2023 with the help of goalkeeper Aleksandar Lacok and gave themselves a good push towards the quarter-finals. Germany will now have to redeem against Iran if they want to have a chance of progressing further, bringing main round Group IV to an exciting finish.
The top-notch clash lived up to its promises, giving unstoppable energy on the court in Hall Marino Cvektović in Opatija. Germany was the first side to get to the three-goal lead at the start of the game, but soon the Faroe Islands imposed their rhythm and took over from the 22nd minute. Yet, the Germans were close to mounting a comeback in the last five minutes of the game after a strong defensive display.
While the attack was making sure we saw some powerful back shots and easy wing scoring, the true superheroes of the first half were the goalkeepers. Aleksandar Lacok was at nine saves at 47% save efficiency, 15 saves by the end, while his counterpart Marc Julian Buchele had seven saves at 37%. The duo delivered a good show in the last minute of the first half.
The Faroese's strong offensive performance also resulted in Germany's top scorer Marvin Siemer netting his first 20 minutes into the game. The fighting spirit we met against Sweden, boosted by the chants from the stands, was alive throughout the game against Germany.
Even though the competition's top scorer at the moment, Oli Mittun gave another breathtaking performance, the true pain in the neck for Germans was left wing Jákup Egholm, who delivered some of the decisive goals while the Faroese were taking a break.
Strong 6-0 defence kept making trouble for Germany as Emir Kurtagic's team went on a nine-minute stint without a goal that extended from the 43rd minute to the 52nd, giving the Faroe Islands a huge 27:20 lead ten minutes before the final buzzer. It all went downhill for the Germans, who looked angry and nervous on the court and made bad decisions.
However, with a man-to-man, 3-3 defence, they forced the Faroe Islands into mistakes, narrowing the gap to four with four minutes on the clock. The Germans continued to pounce and almost completely erased the opponent's lead when Fritz Haake scored for 27:28. In a thriller finish, the German's 13th turnover of the game proved to be decisive for their possible comeback as the Faroese sealed their 30:28 win.
hummel Player of the Match: Ísak Vedelsbol (Faroe Islands)
Photos: Croatia 2023/Kolektiff images