Poland, Japan, Morocco and Norway clinch first place in their groups at the President’s Cup
26 Jun. 2023
The four matches scheduled this morning in Athens, Magdeburg and Hanover all decided the winners of the four groups in the President’s Cup, with two European teams, one African side and one Asian squad securing their places with wins.
Morocco produced a surprise win against Saudi Arabia (33:21) after their draw against Cuba to clinch the first place in an excellent comeback, as they need only one more win to secure their best-ever finish at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship.
A strong run in the first half, which saw them outscore Slovenia by seven goals, helped Norway regain their confidence, with their third win in a row in the world handball flagship competition (36:25).
Poland needed only a draw against Algeria but secured a 13-goal win, 36:23. At the same time, Japan duly delivered their best game so far at Germany/Greece 2023, clinching a 14-goal win against Kuwait, 37:23, with a flawless display in the second half.
- Group I
Poland vs Algeria 36:23 (16:11)
Poland needed at least a draw against Algeria to secure the first place in Group I of the President’s Cup. However, their eyes were set on the win, as the European side still tried to process their dramatic exit from contention in the preliminary round, despite a strong performance in the first three games.
Therefore, it was not a shock that Poland started the game flawlessly, taking a 5:1 lead thanks to some excellent fast breaks spurred by the saves of experienced goalkeeper Marcel Jastrzębski, who featured in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League this season for Orlen Wisla Plock.
Jastrzębski continued to frustrate Algeria, but the African side got back and managed to keep the gap at five goals until the end of the first half, with right back Sidi Aissa Ramy scoring four goals and taking over Meddahi Rabah Racim, who became more of a facilitator than a shooter, after missing five of the six shots he took in the first half.
Both Jastrzębski and fellow goalkeeper Jakub Ałaj frustrated Algeria in the second half, combining for 18 saves between them (45% saving efficiency), as the gap grew even bigger, with no question about the winner. Wings Tomasz Kosznik and Dawid Molski were the top scorers in the game, with eight and five goals respectively, underlining the key to the game, Poland’s efficient fast breaks, which brought a 36:23 win.
With their second win in a row in Group I in Magdeburg, Poland sealed the first place in the group. They will now head to Hanover for the Placement Matches 17-24, eyeing a win in the President’s Cup, a consolation prize for a European side with some excellent talent in the pipeline for the future. But first, they will have to win against Kuwait.
On the other hand, Algeria are virtually locked in the second place, despite the loss, and will face a plucky Japan side in the Placement Matches 17-24, an opponent who has delivered excellent performances so far and won against an African team, Angola.
hummel Player of the Match: Dawid Molski (Poland)
- Group II
Kuwait vs Japan 23:37 (16:19)
Japan ended the President's Cup group victorious, beating Kuwait in the battle for the winner of the group. Both sides will keep fighting in the Placement Matches 17-24, where Japan is coming with a third straight win and Kuwait with a first defeat in three days.
The Japanese players had a rather slow start to the game as Kuwait took the lead by three. With good defensive reactions from Shogo Oyama and some easy goals from Futa Takahashi, Japan propelled to 10:5, making Kuwait nervous. Strong defence and fighting spirit were crucial for the opponent's comeback. After having below-the-average shot efficiency, Kuwait restored it to 58% and as Ali Jaafar netted his second goal in the game, Kuwait was down by two.
But the fast-paced handball was difficult for Kuwait to keep up with, and the main difference between the two teams was visible in the second half. Kuwait reared their heads again. In 15 minutes, they scored three times while Japan was on 11 as Yusei Kitagawa received a nice ball to the line, setting 30:18.
Centre back Saif Aldawani was the only one who found a way around Japan's defence, netting nine goals from 17 attempts. Japan were equally efficient from the back positions – right back Tetta Otake and left back Futa Takahashi both scored eight times from nine attempts.
hummel Player of the Match: Tetta Otake (Japan)
- Group III
- Group IV
Morocco vs Saudi Arabia 33:21 (15:14)
A strong second-half performance helped Morocco to take their second win at the championship and finish top of Group IV with five points, securing their berth at the Placement Matches 17-24. Saudi Arabia, who became runners-up with four points, will also continue to fight for the President’s Cup.
Morocco’s win was bad news for Cuba, who lost a chance for a top-two finish in the group. The Caribbeans will go to the Placement Matches 25-32 alongside Chile, whom they meet later today.
Following a frustrating draw against Cuba the day before, the African side looked focused and determined in attack, as 12 of their players scored at least once. Achraf Eladich was their top scorer with seven goals, and goalkeeper Youssef El Mouaddar – just like in the previous games – also had an impact, boasting 12 saves.
However, the first half was quite balanced. Although Morocco created an 11:7 lead in the 20th minute, Saudi Arabia cut the deficit to just one goal at the break, giving them a good chance to hit back.
But as in many previous matches, the Asians lacked consistency and slowed down. Morocco opened the second half with an impressive 7:0 run, which basically removed all questions about the outcome. And as Saudi Arabia were restricted to just seven goals after the break, the Africans cruised to a commanding win.
hummel Player of the Match: Sarghoune Abdelmoughite (Morocco)