USA seal maiden win at IHF Men’s Youth World Championship
08 Aug. 2023
After a nail-biting game, the United States of America wrote history and delivered their first-ever win at the IHF Men's Youth World Championship, 33:26 against Burundi, and will now head to the Placement Matches 25-28.
One day removed after securing their first win in the competition, Rwanda doubled down and earned their second win in a row (44:17) against New Zealand, while the Republic of Korea also opened their account with a 37:24 win over Japan in an all-Asian derby.
Georgia also created their best performance at Croatia 2023 and secured their highest-ever win at the IHF Men's Youth World Championship (41:22) against Mexico.
- Group I
Rwanda vs New Zealand 44:17 (17:9)
Buoyed by their win against Morocco on Monday, Rwanda aimed to make it two out of two in the President's Cup and improve their chances for a better finish at Croatia 2023, and that meant securing a second win against New Zealand.
Undoubtedly, this was the most consistent game for the African side, which ticked all the boxes in the first seven minutes of the game to create a 7:0 unanswered run, leaving New Zealand wondering what happened and where the mistakes came from.
Yves Kajiyama was once again unstoppable for the African side, scoring six times in less than 20 minutes, while goalkeeper Arsene Uwayezu boasted a 50% saving efficiency, with Rwanda jumping to a 10-goal lead after 18 minutes, 15:5.
The first half ended with an eight-goal gap for Rwanda, which quickly doubled in the first ten minutes of the second half (26:10) as Kajiyama and Samuel Mbesutunguwe combined for 17 goals until the 39th minute.
Eventually, they overcame with joy and with Kajiyama scoring 14 goals and Mbesutunguwe adding 11 goals, Rwanda secured their second win in as many days (44:17), making it a dream scenario for them at the 2023 IHF Men's Youth World Championship, after their win against Morocco.
With their second win in as many days, Rwanda jumped on the first place in the group standings and will secure it if Algeria do not win against Morocco in the next game. On the other hand, New Zealand end up on the last place in the group and will feature in the Placement Matches 29-32, still looking for their first win in the competition.
hummel Player of the Match: Yves Kajiyama (Rwanda)
- Group II
Japan vs Republic of Korea 27:34 (10:19)
The Republic of Korea needed a win to avoid finishing on the last place in the group and head to the Placement Matches 29-32, and their hunger was exacerbated after conceding four consecutive losses in the first four matches at Croatia 2023.
Adding that their rivals in the last game of the group were Japan, it became even more important for Korea to clinch a win, yet their start was far from everything they wanted, with Japan taking an early lead. But the tables turned quickly as the Asian champions finally got their game going.
A 6:0 unanswered run which saw Japan fail to score for seven minutes and 23 seconds, was crucial for Korea, with line player Hyeonmin Kim being the fulcrum of their attack, with five goals scored in the first half.
As Korea built on that lead, they entered the break with a nine-goal gap, 19:10, mostly thanks to their excellent attack, but also due to goalkeeper Hyeonmin Kim saving 10 shots for a 50% saving efficiency, which definitely boosted his team's chances of winning.
While Japan's wing Kotaro Tachibana scored eight goals, his team failed to get any momentum back after the disappointing first half, with Korea's back Jihwan Choi taking over and dominating for his team, with eight goals and three assists.
In a game of fine margins, Korea did manage the gap superbly in the second half – but Japan clawed back a bit in the last minute, a feature which might prove crucial in a three-way tie with Bahrain which could materialise at the end of the group – and clinched a seven-goal win (34:27), after a dominating display, clearly their best so far at Croatia 2023.
With their first win in the competition, the Republic of Korea made sure that they will not finish on the last place in this group and have to wait for the game between Iceland and Bahrain to see exactly where they will end up. On the other hand, Japan are in the same position, having to wait to see exactly where they end up after the group's last game, where Iceland is favoured.
hummel Player of the Match: Hyeonmin Kim (Republic of Korea)
- Group III
Mexico vs Georgia 22:41 (8:20)
Georgia finally claimed their maiden win at the competition and did it in style, beating Mexico by as many as 19 goals. After this result, the Georgians finished third in the group with two points and moved to the Placement Matches 25-28, while Mexico, who suffered their fifth consecutive defeat, will now fight for the 29th position.
Unlike the previous games, Georgia demonstrated good teamwork and firepower. Sandro Darsania scored six goals and increased his tally at the tournament to 33 goals, but other players also stepped up and netted even more. Hummel Player of the Match Giorgi Areshidze scored seven goals from eight attempts, and Vakhtang Khelisupali became the top scorer of the match with nine goals.
Besides, Georgia's goalkeeper Gigi Rukhadze stood like a wall, stopping 16 balls for a 47% save efficiency. His heroics started early in the match and helped his team to pull clear at 8:2 in the 13th minute. A bit later, Mexico closed the gap to 4:8, but Georgia used an impressive 7:0 run to take a 15:4 lead by minute 22.
The Central Americans, who had been closer to snatching points from Montenegro the day before, needed more freshness and made a lot of mistakes. They improved their attack as the game developed, and their top scorer Juan Humberto Anguiano Lopez, netted seven times. However, Mexico's shot efficiency stood at only 45%, and Georgia, who had 68%, translated this advantage into a long-awaited victory.
hummel Player of the Match: Giorgi Areshidze (Georgia)
- Group IV
United States of America vs Burundi 33:26 (15:14)
The United States of America came to their historic first win at the IHF Men's Youth World Championship, beating Burundi on the last day of the President's Cup group matches. Burundi, who was fighting hard until the end, will go into the battle for the 29th place, while the USA will join three others in the 25-28 placement matches.
Burundi started off strong having an early lead to the game. Their good performance on the court in Opatija came from goalkeeper Alex Benjamin Ingabire who was putting off the Americans as much as he could even when his teammates didn't utilise his saves.
However, the United States of America found a new wave of energy mid-way and, with Benjamin Edwards' help, took over the lead after trailing by three. One thing both sides had in common were turnovers in the first half. The USA was at number ten while Burundi added five more, preventing the game from having a more exciting feeling.
Even though Edwards kept delivering in the second half, the USA could not make a break as Burundi's temper never faltered. The biggest gap at the moment was in the 41st minute when Kaeden Kuhlmeyer netted his second for 24:20, but soon the game was level up until the last ten minutes of the game. Arakata Bernard and Jean Belly Karikurubu were the leaders of Burundi, having scored six and five goals respectively by the end of the game.
Goalkeeper Grayson Wide really made Burundi's attack miserable, especially five minutes before the buzzer when he had three saves in a row. This time, the USA turned those saves into easy goals creating a five-goal lead. Burundi weren't able to score for the last 12 minutes, leaving the USA with, maybe unexpectedly, a clear win.
hummel Player of the Match: Benjamin Edwards (United States of America)
Photos: Croatia 2023/Kolektiff images