France strike gold at the W17 EHF EURO 2023, after a 16-year wait
15 Aug. 2023
16 years removed after their previous win at the W17 EHF EURO, France clinched the trophy once again, for the second time in history, after an excellent performance, which saw the new European champion clinch seven wins in the eight games they played.
Four teams stayed unbeaten after the preliminary round, with France, Denmark and Croatia winning all three games they had. In contrast, Germany stayed alive with a draw against Montenegro, winning their group with five points, two more than the hosts.
Eight sides – the first two in each preliminary round group – progressed to the main round, with the top two sides in each group making their way to the semi-finals. Taking advantage of the points taken from the previous phase of the competition, Germany and Croatia – in Group I – and Denmark and France – in Group II – finished in those places and ensured safe passage to the semi-finals.
No team was boasting a streak of five wins, first because Denmark drew against Hungary in the last game (24:24) after a clear win against France (25:20), while Croatia failed to secure a win against Germany (23:25) in what proved to be a very well-balanced main round.
However, the semi-finals were two very entertaining clashes, especially the second one, between Denmark and Croatia, with a very low-scoring, defence-minded game ensuing, as the second half brought only 13 goals between the two teams. Eventually, Denmark clinched the win (21:20) after leading for most of the game, as goalkeeper Andrea Nørklit Jørgensen delivered a classic performance, with seven saves for a 46% saving efficiency.
France took early control of the game against Germany and had a very well-rounded performance in the first semi-final, as all but three of their outfield players scored at least one goal, with their defence stopping Germany in their tracks to take a 26:21 win.
The final was a rematch between France and Denmark, and this time around, it was France who came out as winners, with another fantastic defensive performance helping them. Denmark scored only nine goals in the first half, as France was absolutely superb in defence, with goalkeeper Leane Gonzalez shining with 15 saves for a 47% saving efficiency.
Once again, 10 different players were on the scoresheet for France, which managed to stay strong until the end. They limited Denmark to only 19 goals scored in the game to take the gold with a 24:19 win.
France clinched their fourth medal at the W17 EHF EURO, jumping to the fourth place in the all-time standings, while Denmark had their eighth medal and the third silver one, with three gold and two bronze medals in their tally.
In the bronze medal game, Germany were stronger than Croatia and took the last place on the podium with a 31:27 win, finishing with a medal for the third time in the previous four editions of the competition.
Denmark’s goalkeeper, Andrea Nørklit Jørgensen, was named the MVP of the W17 EHF EURO, as seven teams were represented in the All-Star team.
The first 12 sides in the competition have secured their tickets for the 2024 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, with France, Denmark, Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Romania and Czechia sealing safe passage to the world handball flagship competition.
Photo: French Handball Federation