Otherworldly comeback helps Egypt seal semi-finals berth

10 Aug. 2023

Otherworldly comeback helps Egypt seal semi-finals berth

Reigning champions Egypt were down three goals with 90 seconds left in the first quarter-final at the 2023 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship but produced an outstanding comeback, pushing the game into extra time and clinching a 38:34 win against the Faroe Islands to secure their second semi-finals berth in a row.

  • Faroe Islands vs Egypt 34:38 after extra time (13:13; 31:31)

The Faroe Islands made it to the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship quarter-finals for the first time in their history, but the challenge was not easy at all. For a place between the top four sides at Croatia 2023, they had to deliver a win against the reigning champions, Egypt, a strong side, which was just coming after their first loss in the competition since 2019.
For the first six minutes and 53 seconds of the game, the European side had the upper hand, with a sturdy defence forcing Egypt to struggle to score at least one goal. Yet Egypt’s goalkeepers, Youssef Salama and Youssef Ahmed, kept their team in a game with excellent saves.
It did not take too much until Egypt’s plan in defence became clear: stop Faroe’s top scorer, Oli Mittun, who had previously scored 54 goals in the first five matches of the competition, at all costs, deploying a man-to-man defence, which clearly hampered his potential.
In turn, Egypt started to become more and more efficient in attack, with backs Ziad Hashad and Ziad Abdelrahim dictating the pace, with three goals each, as Egypt used a 3:0 unanswered run to open the first big gap in the game (9:6), after 19 minutes, which prompted a team time-out from the European side.
It proved to be the right decision, especially as Mittun regained new strength, coming slowly back into the game and finishing the first half with six goals, which improved his overall tally at Croatia 2023 to 60 goals, the first player to reach this number in the competition.
Moreover, the Faroe Islands had their own 3:0 run to tie the game and managed to deliver a heavy blow to Egypt at the end of the half, when Búi Poulsen converted a free throw to tie the game after the time was gone (13:13), as the European side seriously boosted their morale with that goal, celebrated like it was a crucial one.
A simple change made by the Faroe Islands also drastically improved the pace of the match in the second half: the European side used a seven-on-six attack to counter Mittun being marked man-to-man, and that unlocked a free-flowing style for both sides, with the Faroe Islands and Egypt starting to trade goals.
It was Faroe who took the lead throughout the start of the second half, even boasting a two-goal lead, 17:15, while Mittun was rendered a non-factor for most of the half, but that created tons of space for the other players. But each time, Egypt proved grit and calm to tie the game back, with the two sides entering the last 10 minutes deadlocked 25:25.
This was always going to be a game of fine margins, and it was Egypt which blinked first in the last minutes. First, a two-minute suspension created the perfect chance for Mittun to shine, free from the man-to-man marking, dishing assists for his teammates.
On the back of that and a couple of posts hit with powerful shots by Egypt, the Faroe Islands created a 31:28 lead with 90 seconds to go in the game, as Niklas Gaard converted his one-on-one chances created via breakthroughs.
While Egypt tried everything to mount a comeback, everything looked done and dusted for them until their full man-to-man press delivered results, forcing Mittun into a turnover, with Belal Masoud converting the ensuing fast break in literally the last second to push the match into extra time.
It was Egypt’s defence which stood tall – with six steals throughout the whole game – and in the extra time the momentum was all Egypt’s, which used a 3:1 start to create their first two-goal lead in the game since the 24th minute (34:32). With Ziad Hashad in a superb form – 11 goals and two assists – Egypt broke the deadlock and controlled the game to take a 38:34 win.
This will be Egypt’s second consecutive semi-final appearance at the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, facing the winner of the clash between Denmark and Portugal, while the Faroe Islands will head to the Placement Matches 5-8, underlining their excellent performance in the competition once again.
hummel Player of the Match: Ziad Hashad (Egypt)