Denmark impress as teams warm up for EHF EURO 2022
All over Europe, and even in Africa, participants of the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 have been playing test matches last week with the start of the tournament in Hungary and Slovakia only two months away.
The most notable event during the national team week took place in Trondheim, where the next edition of the Golden League featured four EHF EURO 2022 starters.
Hosts Norway lost 31:28 to Olympic silver medallists Denmark, despite 11 goals from Sander Sagosen. Denmark also won 31:26 against France – a repeat of the Olympic final in August, when France won – with top stars Nikola Karabatic and Mikkel Hansen both rested, and 33:19 against Netherlands. Norway defeated Netherlands 40:29, but lost to France 31:25.
EHF EURO 2022 co-hosts Hungary defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina in two matches with a nearly identical result: 26:23 (14:10) and 26:24 (14:11). Fellow tournament organisers Slovakia suffered a heavy lost against Serbia 32:21; a second match between the teams was called off due to coronavirus cases in the Slovak team.
“We need to keep our heads up high for the EHF EURO,” said Slovak top scorer Tomas Urban.
With a thoroughly rejuvenated squad, two-time defending champions Spain claimed two wins over Romania. Angel Fernandez was top scorer with seven goals in the first duel, which Spain won 35:31. Ferran Sole netted six in the second duel, in which Spain turned a 16:17 half-time deficit into a 33:29 victory.
Elliot Stenmalm, one of the rising stars of the M19 EHF EURO last summer, had his debut for Sweden against Poland in two duels between the two hosts of the World Championship 2023. Sweden took two clear victories: 31:24 (10 goals by Lukas Pellas) and 32:28 (six goals by Felix Claar and five by Lukas Sandell).
Portugal had a busy schedule with three matches in five days. They defeated Luxembourg on Wednesday and lost to Germany (30:28) on Friday, but the team of head coach Paulo Perreira stroke back at the German ‘Day of Handball’ on Sunday, winning 32:30 with more than 5,000 spectators attending in Düsseldorf. The match marked the official farewell from former team captain Uwe Gensheimer and right back Steffen Weinhold from the German team.
Neighbours Austria and Czech Republic shared the victories in their two test matches. Austria crowned the return of Nikola Bilyk from a year out with a knee injury by winning the first match 35:30, but Czech Republic completely turned the tables on Sunday with a 30:21 win, backed by a strong goalkeeper Tomas Mrkva.
Another double-header between neighbouring countries took place in Vilnius, where Lithuania defeated Latvia, playing without Dainis Kristopans, twice: 31:26 and 35:25.
Two EHF EURO 2022 participants met in Minsk, with hosts Belarus beating Russia twice. Mikita Vailupau was top scorer with 12 goals in the first match (31:27), while Belarus won even bigger the following day: 35:27.
Croatia and Slovenia, two EHF EURO 2020 semi-finalists, met in Novigrad. And while Croatia were without playmaker Luka Cindric, they won the match 34:31, led by youngsters Ivan Martinovic (seven goals) and Halil Jaganjac (six). Jure Dolenec scored six for Slovenia.
Three European teams travelled to Africa for their test matches.
North Macedonia lost twice to Olympic semi-finalists Egypt in Cairo: 32:25 and 32:26, with Filip Taleski their best scorer on both occasions with six and nine goals, respectively.
EHF EURO 2022 participants Montenegro won a four-team tournament in Tunisia. The team of head coach Zoran Roganovic were defeated by the hosts (30:28), but beat Switzerland 35:31 and Cape Verde, led by their former coach Ljubomir Obradovic, 30:29. It was enough for the tournament win since Switzerland beat Tunisia 28:22.