Major contenders Denmark, Germany and Slovenia suffer early exits at the Junior World Championship
Round of surprises in Sarajevo
The last 16 of the Junior World Championship in Bosnia-Herzegovina proved to be the end of the road for three medal contenders.
Defending champions Germany, former youth world champion Denmark and the U20 EHF EURO bronze medallist Slovenia were eliminated in the first knock-out stage on Monday (22 July) after winning their respective groups and remaining unbeaten throughout.
In total six European teams made it through to the quarter-finals, and two of them definitely will make it to the semi-finals, as two all-European duels will be played on Wednesday.
Germany were defeated by France in a real thriller by 20:21 (12:13). The match winner for the French was goalkeeper Remi Desbonnet from VELUX EHF Champions League participant MAHB Montpellier, who saved 13 shots after the break and backed his team in the crucial stage of the match.
The Germans were leading shortly after the break, but then scored only five times in the last 24 minutes of the second half.
Denmark missed out on the quarter-final after a 26:29 (12:14) defeat to Switzerland – the same opponent had eliminated the Danes at last year’s U20 EHF EURO in Turkey. Ten goals from Luka Maros and 16 saves by the brilliant goalkeeper Nikola Portner were the keys for the biggest sensation of the last 16 in Sarajevo.
Not all European domination
Bosnia Herzegovina were not able to make use of the frenetic support of several thousand spectators and their journey came to an end against Egypt, losing 25:28 (22:22, 11:14) against the Africans after extra-time.
A minor sensation was the Dutch victory against Serbia. The Netherlands, who play in their first major competition on the global stage, played it cool against the favoured Serbs.
Leading 26:20 seven minutes before the end, they seemed to have the game wrapped up. However, Serbia scored five goals in an incredible comeback, but failed with their final shot at the final buzzer.
Swedes keep form
Sweden were the only group winner to win their last 16 match and to proceed to the quarter-finals. They went through with style and never looked in danger during the 36:21 (17:10) victory against Argentina. Goalkeeper Peter Johannesson was unbeatable for the Swedes, who now hope to go all the way like the Croats, who had an easy-going afternoon against Tunisia, winning expectedly 29:17 (11:8).
Reigning U20 European champions Spain had recovered from their final 27:37 preliminary defeat against Sweden and overcame Hungary in another all-European last 16 clearly by 38:28 (20:13), with 10 goals from Victor Saez being the stand-out performance.
Spain vs. Switzerland and Netherlands vs. Sweden are the two all-European quarter-finals, Croatia face Brazil and France play against Egypt.
Slovenia vs. Tunisia, Germany vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia vs. Argentina and Hungary vs. Denmark are the first duels in the placement round 9-16 on Tuesday afternoon.
Russia, the only European participant in the President’s Cup for the ranking positions 17 to 24, won their first match of this phase 28:27 against Qatar and compete for 17th place on Tuesday against Korea.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
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