Final main round berths to be delivered on 16-game day

01 Aug. 2022

Final main round berths to be delivered on 16-game day

The preliminary round at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship will come to a close on Tuesday, as 16 games are due to be played in the three venues in North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje.

With 11 main round berths already sealed by North Macedonia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Denmark, Portugal, Egypt, Romania, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Norway, France and Hungary, five more will be awarded at the end of the day, completing the main round table.

Crunch deciders will be played in Group A, where Montenegro, Sweden and Iceland all battle for two spots, while Czech Republic and Brazil fight for one coveted spot in Group G.

Group A

  • Algeria vs Iceland (12:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Montenegro vs Sweden (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)

A point against Algeria would see Iceland through to the main round of the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, a superb performance from the European side at their maiden edition of the tournament. Iceland have been one of the top defences in the competition, conceding only 17.5 goals per game on average, the second lowest mark at North Macedonia, after Montenegro, who conceded 16.5 goals per game. However, Algeria are the most permeable defence in the competition, having conceded 46.5 goals per game, therefore Iceland will surely be favoured in this game.

It is a do-or-die for Sweden, after their 17:22 loss against Iceland in the first match of the group, as they must win against Montenegro to progress to the next phase. The Scandinavian side would record their worst-ever finish at the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship if they do not progress to the main round, but Montenegro’s gritty, defence-first approach will likely exert pressure on Sweden’s attack. On the other hand, a draw is enough for Montenegro to progress. In that case, both them and Iceland will start the main round with a point, courtesy of their 18:18 draw on the second day of the competition.

Group B

  • Uzbekistan vs Senegal (10:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran vs North Macedonia (20:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)

Both teams progressing to the main round from this group have already been determined. Home side North Macedonia and World Championship debutants Islamic Republic of Iran are both on four points after two matches, and on Tuesday, they will fight for the top position in the group. And although Iran are the highest-scoring team of the tournament with 86 goals, North Macedonia will be ranked higher in case of a draw thanks to a better goal difference. 

Uzbekistan and debutants Senegal have lost a chance to reach the main round and will continue in the President’s Cup, so they will play for the points to take with them to the next stage. 

Group C

  • Austria vs Faroe Islands (10:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Denmark vs Portugal (12:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)

The situation in this all-European group is similar to Group B as both Denmark and Portugal have already secured their main round berths after two victories in as many games. As Denmark have a +22 goal difference compared to Portugal’s +11, even a draw will be enough for them to finish top of the group. 

Faroe Islands and Portugal tried to fight hard but lost their matches both on Saturday and Sunday. Now their goal is to do well in the President’s Cup, so both sides have something to fight for in their encounter, as the winner will start the next stage with two points. 

Group D

  • Egypt vs India (10:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall 2, Skopje)
  • Croatia vs Kazakhstan (13:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre Hall 2, Skopje)

After stunning Croatia with a 33:31 opening victory, Egypt went on to claim their second win, 39:21 against Kazakhstan. They have already secured a main round spot and will start the next round with four points, while their rivals India are set to play in the President’s Cup. 

Croatia and Kazakhstan will determine the second progressing team in a direct duel. Even a draw will be enough for Croatia, who have a much better goal difference, +16 as compared to Kazakhstan’s -8. After a setback against Egypt, the Balkan team bounced back in their second match against India, winning 56:34 in the highest-scoring game ever of the IHF Women’s World Youth Championships. And now the Croats will be seen as favourites against Kazakhstan.

Group E

  • Romania vs Netherlands (16:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Guinea vs Slovenia (17:00 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Hall 2, Skopje)

Romania and the Netherlands are both riding a two-game winning streak entering this game, which projects as a high-octane clash. Romania have the third best attack in the competition so far, with 74 goals, while the Netherlands have scored 10 goals less, but passed the 30-goal mark in each game played so far. Romania need to improve their efficiency, but with left back Maria Lixandroiu in top form – scoring 17 goals in two games – they have a potent weapon that can truly surprise the Netherlands. The winner of the match will take two points into the main round, which can prove decisive.

In the other match, Slovenia and Guinea, who are already out of contention for a main round spot, collide in the search for the first win in the competition. Guinea have conceded 68 goals in two matches, with their defence being the seventh most permeable, as the European side are favoured in front of a team that is at their debut edition of the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship.

Group F

  • Slovakia vs Republic of Korea (14:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Germany vs Switzerland (20:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Hall 2, Skopje)

Eyeing their eighth consecutive top-10 finish in the competition, the Republic of Korea had an outstanding start, dazzling with the sheer speed displayed at North Macedonia 2022. Their 34:28 win against Germany on Monday was one of the most consistent displays by a team so far in the competition, as they will try to extend their winning streak to three games on Tuesday against Slovakia. Seojin Kim and Minseo Kim have 20 goals each after two matches, as they could be worthy challengers for the top scorer title.

With Slovakia already out, the second main round berth will be decided by the game between Germany and Switzerland. Germany’s credentials as a top favourite in the competition were totally disrupted by Korea, who delivered what could be a fatal blow in the European side’s challenge for a medal. Germany need a draw from this game to progress, yet when the two sides met in June in Lübeck for a friendly game, Switzerland conceded a 22:36 loss.

Group G

  • Brazil vs Uruguay (16:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Norway vs Czech Republic (18:30 CEST, Jane Sandanski Sports Centre, Skopje)

Norway have already progressed to the main round but will need another win against the Czech Republic to start the next phase with two points, as Kristine Lunde-Borgersen’s side conceded the third-lowest amount of goals in the competition so far, 36. The Czech Republic are big underdogs in this match, especially after earning a hard-fought 24:23 win against Uruguay and drawing against Brazil, 28:28.

If the Czech Republic lose, then Brazil will need a win by two or more goals against Uruguay, which should prove easy to achieve, according to the last meeting between the two sides. In April, Brazil clinched a 37:20 win against their South American counterparts at the 2022 South and Central American Women's Youth Handball Championship, as Kelly Rosa, who is their top scorer at North Macedonia 2022, scored eight times.

Group H

  • Argentina vs Spain (14:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)
  • Hungary vs France (18:30 CEST, Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, Skopje)

On Monday, France and Hungary struggled in their matches against Argentina and Spain, respectively, but ultimately weathered the storm and earned second consecutive wins. These results made the situation in the group quite straightforward: France and Hungary are through to the main round, and their mutual encounter will determine the group winner. 

Argentina and Spain should be given a credit for their performance, yet once again they failed to take any points and will head to the President's Cup. But before that, they will face each other and try to earn their first points at North Macedonia 2022.