Czech Republic and Israel celebrate M20 EHF Championship gold medals
25 Jul. 2022
Two separate M20 EHF Championship tournaments took place in Varna, Bulgaria, this month, with the Czech Republic and Israel having been crowned winners.
Both competitions were played in a round robin format, with the top two sides from each group advancing to the semi-finals.
The first tournament, held between 2 and 10 July, had nine teams at the start, which were divided into two groups, one of five teams and one of four teams.
Czech Republic had a stellar outing throughout the nine days of the competitions, riding a five-game winning streak to be crowned champions, four years after securing the trophy in 2018.
With the best attack in the competition, averaging 33.6 goals per game, the Czech Republic team left nothing to chance, as they secured the gold medal with a 32:26 against Austria, the same opponent against whom they won in 2018.
The Netherlands secured the bronze medal with a 42:32 win against Finland, as they are also trying to improve at the junior level, like they already did for the senior team.
Georgia’s Nikoloz Kalandadze had a superb tournament, scoring 76 goals on his way to secure the first place in the top goal scorer standings, followed by Slovakian duo Jakub Kravcák (63) and Tomas Smetanka (44).
The second tournament, which took place in the same venue near the Black Sea in Bulgaria, featured 10 teams in the competition, which were divided into two groups of five teams each.
The co-hosts of the 2023 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship, Greece, were considered favourites in the competition, especially after sweeping their opponents in the group phase, winning four matches in a row, including a clear 27:19 against the second-placed side, Israel.
The other group was won by Switzerland, who won four games out of four as well, with a goal difference of +56, followed by Romania.
In an unexpected twist, both second-placed sides progressed to the final, as Israel clinched a 32:29 win against Switzerland, while Romania eliminated Greece 35:33 after a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.
There was nothing to separate Israel and Romania in the final, despite the former side boasting a three-goal advantage throughout almost the entire second half. With five players scoring six goals each, Romania mounted a superb comeback and tied the game after 60 minutes, 33:33.
However, Romania did not have the same luck from the semi-final, missing two penalties, while Israel converted all of them, to clinch the title with a 38:36 win.
Switzerland secured the bronze medal in the competition, with a 26:23 victory against Greece.
Israel’s Or Refael Levi was the top scorer of the competition, with 43 goals, followed by Kosovo’s Ardin Berisha, with 36 goals and Romania’s Erik Leonard Pop, with 32 goals.
M20 EHF Championship 1
1. Czech Republic
4. Finland, 5. Latvia, 6. Slovakia, 7. Georgia, 8. Bulgaria, 9. Türkiye
M20 EHF Championship 2
4. Greece, 5. North Macedonia, 6. Ukraine, 7. Luxembourg, 8. Great Britain, 9. Lithuania, 10. Kosovo
For more information about the events, visit eurohandball.com.
Photos: Bulgarian Handball Federation