NEWS REPORT: Their victory over Spain in a high-class Men's 19 World Championship Final is another confirmation of the extraordinary quality of France's 1998 generation of players
Superb France U19 beat Spain to retain world title
Less than seven months after Nikola Karabatic & co. took gold at their home World Championship, France’s under-19 players have followed the footsteps of the senior team.
France came from behind to defeat Spain 28:25 (12:13) in the final of the Men’s Youth World Championship 2017 in Georgia on Sunday.
Having also won two years ago, France became only the second nation to successfully defend an U19 world title after Denmark earned back-to-back victories in 2011 and 2013.
Sunday’s result marked the second major triumph for France’s 1998 generation of players, who also topped the podium at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2016 in Croatia.
Most notable exponent of this outstanding generation is Kyllian Villeminot, who was named Most Valuable Player of the World Championship.
The Montpellier centre back wrapped up his excellent display over the last two weeks with 13 goals in the final to raise his total for the tournament to 60 – just six short of the leading goal scorer, Iceland’s Teitur Örn Einarsson.
“I am very happy and really proud of the victory of the team. That is the most important for me, more than my title of MVP,” Villeminot was quoted on the IHF website. “Today I was on fire, it was crazy. It was a very good game for me.”
France had breezed through all their matches until the final with at least a six-goal difference. But as expected, Spain proved a real test for coach Eric Quintin’s team.
Led by right back Pol Valera Robira’s eight goals, Spain went ahead by two (4:2, 12:10, 13:11) several times in the first half.
France quickly hit back after the break to enjoy a four-goal lead (21:17) halfway through the second half. But Spain refused to give in and levelled again at 23:23.
With less than five minutes left on the clock and the score still even (24:24), France used a strong finish and a 4:1 series – concluded by Villeminot’s last strike 29 seconds before the buzzer – to claim the title.
In the bronze medal match earlier Sunday, Denmark edged Croatia 30:29 (17:16) thanks to a fast break goal by Mathias Gidsel in the closing second.
The final standings of all 24 teams is available on the IHF website.
Apart from Villeminot being awarded MVP, champions France had one player named among the tournament’s All-stars, right wing Edouard Kempf.
The team also included one player from runners-up Spain and two from bronze medallists Denmark.
The All-stars of the Men’s 19 World Championship
Left wing: Emil Jakobsen (DEN)
Photos: IHF / Stephane Pillaud
TEXT: EHF / ew
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