EGYPT – The 27th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship concluded last night with Denmark being crowned as back-to-back champions. It was no easy feat for the champions who lasted the 19-day long tournament and emerged victorious among 32 participating nations – a record-high for the biennial event.
With a scarce number of international sporting events to tune in to these days, the Championship showcased to millions of viewers around the world how amazing and enjoyable the sport of handball is. Throughout the event, spectators were treated to highly competitive and exciting matches as teams battled to make it to the finals.
Even Denmark, with its highly-skilled, strong and fast players, had a scare when they faced host-team Egypt in the quarterfinals.
Egypt, enjoying what homecourt advantage they can muster sans the energy from spectators, were able to withstand the defending champions for 80 minutes, which included two periods of extra time, before succumbing to the more experienced Denmark squad in penalties. The final tally read 39-38 in favor of the visitors.
After the match, Denmark’s Mathias Gidsel said: “I’m playing so many minutes and I think I did it well together with the team. It’s a dream and my dream is getting a little bit longer now with the semifinals.” But while their dream and journey continued, Egypt’s dream was shattered. Teammate Niklas Landin remarked: “I’m feeling a bit sad for the Egyptian players. It was their biggest dream to play here at home.”
Denmark had another close encounter in their semifinal match against Spain which they prevailed in 35-33. This set them up for a showdown with Sweden in the finals.
On the other hand, Sweden’s road to the finals began with a quarterfinal match against Qatar which they held back in 35-23 followed by a semifinal match against France which they won with a score of 32-26. It has been 20 years since Sweden featured in the finals of the Championship and 22 years since they last won the title, which incidentally was also held in Egypt.
The dream final between Denmark and Sweden did not disappoint as both teams kept the game close ending up with a final score of 28-26, in favor of the Danes. Thus, Denmark extended their winning streak to 19 games, sweeping all nine matches of this Championship.
In the bronze medal match, it was a historic high-scoring affair that saw Spain tally 35 points against France’s 29 to bring home the bronze – a second for Spain in the Championship.
Denmark’s Mikkel Hansen was also deemed the tournament’s most valuable player (MVP) after collecting 74 goals to bring home the individual award for the fourth time.
The following special awards were also named:
– Best Goalkeeper: Andreas Palicka (Sweden)
– Best Left-wing: Hampus Wanne (Sweden)
– Best Left-back: Mikkel Hansen (Denmark)
– Best Center-back: Jim Gottfridsson (Sweden)
– Best Right-back: Mathias Gidsel (Denmark)
– Best Right-wing: Ferran Solé (Spain)
– Best Pivot: Ludovic Fabregas (France)
– MVP: Mikkel Hansen (Denmark)
Despite not being in the list, a few other notable players are goalkeeper Nilas Landin (Denmark), Gauthier Mvumbi Thierry (D.R. Congo), and Yahya Eldera (Egypt). With their unforgettable performances in the tournament, they will definitely be people to watch out for in the future.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach congratulated the International Handball Federation (IHF) headed by Hassan Moustafa for the outstanding level of organization of the 27th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship. He added: “This is a great encouragement, and we will benefit from it from this experience also with the Olympic Games in Tokyo which will open on 23rd of July this year.”
After the successful staging of the Men’s Handball World Championship, Egypt has proven its worth and skill in organizing international sports events despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizing committee has even surpassed the expectations of many national teams as evidenced by the multitude of players and coaches expressing their admiration for the organization of the event.
It was also announced in the closing ceremony that Poland and Sweden will jointly host the 28th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship in 2023.
Edited by Aldo Tong