PREVIEW: The Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship 2017 begins in Algeria on 18 July, with France hoping to defend their title.
European sides fight for Junior World Championship trophy
The Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship will be held in the Algerian capital Algiers from 18 to 30 July, with 24 nations contesting the medals – including 12 European teams.
France qualified directly for the World Championship as winners of the Men’s Youth (U19) World Championship 2015, held in Russia.
That victory took place only weeks after France claimed the Junior world title in Brazil, adding to the impressive record that saw the nation raise all three men’s World Championship trophies available that year.
France are in a strong position to defend the Junior world title with a squad including the likes of VELUX EHF Champions League right back Dika Mem (FC Barcelona Lassa), who played at the FINAL4 in Cologne.
The team also includes two All-star Team members named at the previous Junior and Youth World Championships: Julien Meyer, who was the All-star goalkeeper at Brazil 2015, though he was actually part of the Under 19 age group at the time, and Melvyn Richardson, the MVP and All-star centre back at Russia 2015.
Spain, Germany, Croatia and Norway qualified for the Junior World Championship thanks to their top-five finishes at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016, where Spain claimed the trophy, Germany won the silver medal, France beat Croatia to finish third, and Norway placed fifth.
Denmark, Faroe Islands, Hungary, Iceland, FYR Macedonia, Russia and Slovenia booked their places through the continental qualification phase held in January 2017, while Sweden were awarded the wild card.
The 24 teams are split into four groups of six for the preliminary round, from which the top four sides qualify for the knock-out phase, beginning with the round of 16. The two bottom-ranked teams in each group remain to contest the President’s Cup placement matches for rankings 17-24.
At the previous event in Brazil, France beat Denmark 26:24 to win the title, while Germany defeated Egypt in extra time to claim bronze.
The more relevant result however, is that of the Youth World Championship 2015, contested by the 1996-born generation, who will take to the court in Algeria. There France won the final against Slovenia 33:26, and Iceland beat Spain 26:22 in the three/four match.
The non-European nations competing at the Junior World Championship are Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea representing Asia, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria representing Africa, and Argentina, Brazil and Chile representing Pan America.
TEXT: Courtney Gahan / br
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