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2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship, Algeria

A collection of all the articles written by me during the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U20) World Championship in Algiers, Algeria. From July 18 to 30 I was based in Algiers, Algeria covering Groups A and B, and the finals.

Features:
“We can be a very dangerous predator”
Slovenia goalkeeper Urh Kastelic has played a key part in their 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship campaign and ranks first in his position at Algeria 2017. At 21, the keeper already has an impressive collection of medals, including gold at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) and 2014 Youth Olympic Games, silver at the 2015 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, and bronze with the senior Slovenia side at the 25th IHF Men’s World Championship in France this January.

Developing through valuable international experience
ihf.info spoke with coach Erik Wudtke following their victory against the Faroe Islands – which was secured only in the final 10 minutes after a close fight – about their campaign so far, the challenges of developing Junior age category teams, and the upcoming clash with Norway.

Richardson: “All the teams are very strong”
ihf.info spoke with centre back Melvyn Richardson following the win against Asian champions Qatar. Richardson was named both the Most Valuable Player and as part of the All-star team at Russia 2015, and is a key part of France’s campaign in Algeria 2017.

One game at a time on historic debut
Faroe Islands entered the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship as debutants at a major international tournament, and had a dream start when they recorded two victories to open their campaign.

“Maybe after 60 years I’ll still be learning”
Egypt coach Wael Aly was at the helm of the Junior national team when they claimed the African nation’s first ever IHF World Championship title in 1993. He was also the man in charge when Egypt finished fourth at the 2015 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship in Brazil, and now leads the team at Algeria 2017 – where the African side are in a position they never have been before, and will miss out on the top 16.

Match previews/reviews:
Spain win maiden Junior world title
Spain claimed their first ever IHF Junior World Championship title after an incredible 70-minute battle, which ended with goalkeeper Xoan Ledo saving every shot in the last three minutes of extra time and Daniel Dujshebaev scoring the game-winning goal.

France claim bronze in final seconds
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship bronze medal was decided in a thrilling game, with France claiming the place on the podium thanks to a one-goal win secured with a save from Julien Meyer in the dying seconds.

Spain aim for first ever Junior title
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship final sees three-time champions Denmark taking on Spain in the battle for the title, with Spain hoping to continue their exceptional undefeated run through the tournament all the way to the podium.

Denmark eliminate defending champions France
Denmark claimed the first ticket to the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship final after a tough 60 minutes against France, thanks to the use of a tactical seven-on-six attacking game and a strong performance from goalkeeper Simon Gade.

Spain repeat EHF EURO victory
The second 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship semi-final ended with a clear win for Spain, who beat their Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 final opponents by five goals to claim a place in the trophy match.

European championship finalists contest penultimate match
Two years ago, it was France and Denmark that contested the IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship title in Brazil – and now those same nations meet in the penultimate match at Algeria 2017 to decide one ticket to the final. After France and Denmark play their Algeria 2017 Group B rematch, Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 finalists Germany and Spain take the court for the second.

Unstoppable Germany and Spain book semi-final spots
Germany played a perfect quarter-final match against Tunisia to claim a place in the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship semi-final. The Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists beat the African team by a six-goal margin, before their semi-final opponent was decided in a match that went into extra time.

EHF EURO 2016 finalists ready for quarter-finals
The gold and silver medallists at the last European championship for the 1996-born generation take the court for the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship quarter-finals in La Coupole D’Alger Arena, with Germany meeting African champions Tunisia and Spain taking on Hungary.

France, Germany, Hungary and Denmark book quarter-final spots
France beat debutants Faroe Islands in the first eighth-final in La Coupole, before Germany and Hungary record wins in extra time, and Denmark beat Norway.

Defending champions open eighth-finals in La Coupole
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship eighth-finals in La Coupole D’Alger Arena feature the 2015 Junior and Youth World Championship finalists, the Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists and debutants Faroe Islands.

20 EHF EURO 2016 runners-up win Group A
Round 5 for 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship saw wins for Germany, Hungary and Republic of Korea.

Slovenia and France unbeaten through group phase
Slovenia opened the final day of 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship group phase matches at La Coupole D’Alger Arena with a three-goal win against Sweden, which moved them up to nine points on the table after an undefeated preliminary round. France joined Slovenia on nine points after their victory against Denmark, and secured first place in the group based on goal difference.

Top-of-the-table clashes headline Round 5
Round 4 for Groups A and B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship is all about placement on the preliminary round tables. 2015 Youth World Championship finalists France and Slovenia race to top Group B, while Germany and Norway meet for a head-to-head clash to determine first place in Group A.

Faroe Islands and Hungary claim eighth-final spots
Norway opened Group A at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a decisive win against Chile, before Germany defeated Faroe Islands after a tough 60 minutes.

France and Slovenia play thrilling draw
2015 Youth World Championship finalist squads France and Slovenia opened Round 3 for Group B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a thrilling draw after Slovenia equalised in the last three minutes. The teams also drew when they met in the group stage at Russia 2015, with a final score of 32:32 in that encounter before France won the trophy match.

Three in a row for Germany and Norway
Germany opened Round 3 for Group A at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a clear win against Republic of Korea. The second match saw World Championship debutants Faroe Islands’ first defeat at the hands of Norway, who in turn recorded their third win from three matches and moved up to six points.

Denmark clinch eighth-final berth
Denmark secured their eighth-finals place as they opened Round 4 for Group B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a comfortable victory over Sweden, which brought their points tally to six on the Group B table. In the final game of the day, Slovenia faced a tough challenge against Egypt, but ultimately overcame the African team and joined France on seven points.

Qatar and Egypt under pressure
With two tickets to the eighth-finals still to be decided in Group B ahead of Round 4, day five at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship sees some crucial encounters as Denmark meet Sweden, Qatar take on France and Slovenia play Egypt.

Crunch time in Group A
With Norway and Germany safely through to the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship eighth-finals, and Faroe Islands in a good position to make it to the knock-out stage on their debut at a major international tournament, Republic of Korea, Hungary and Chile enter Round 4 under pressure.

2015 Youth finalists open day four at La Coupole
Day four at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship in La Coupole D’Alger Arena opens with a bang as 2015 Youth World Championship finalists France and Slovenia take the court for the first match. Following the meeting of these undefeated sides, Denmark look for their second victory against Qatar, before Sweden do the same versus Egypt in Group B.

Two from two for Norway, Germany and Faroe Islands
Norway opened Round 2 for Group A at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a clear victory versus Hungary, before Germany followed suit with an even more significant win against Chile. Both teams thereby earned their second set of two points, and moved up to four points on the table.

Debutants Faroe Islands look for second victory
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship continues in La Coupole D’Alger Arena with Group A matches, where Hungary, Chile and Republic of Korea aim for their first victories against Norway, Germany and Faroe Islands respectively.

France and Slovenia unbeaten in Group B
Day two in competitive Group B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship opened with a clear win for Denmark, who beat a motivated Egypt side by six to claim their first two points at Algeria 2017. The second match of the day saw a close contest between France and Sweden, with France recording their second victory at Algeria 2017.

Defending champions begin with victory
Defending champions France opened their 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship campaign with a clear win over Egypt that put their first two points on the Group B table. Following the victory of France’s 1996-born squad, their 2015 Youth World Championship final opponents, Slovenia defeated Denmark after a close contest that ended with a three-goal margin.

Faroe Islands win debut World Championship match
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship opened in La Coupole D’Alger Arena with a thrilling Group A clash between Germany and Hungary, which ended with a four-goal difference in favour of Germany. Norway followed Germany’s victory with a narrow win after a nail-biting 60 minutes versus Republic of Korea. Faroe Islands wrapped up Round One for Group A with a win against Chile, making their debut at a major international tournament all but perfect.

Photo Galleries · Travel

Postcards from autumnal Ljubljana

The flight into Ljubljana was perhaps one of the most picturesque approaches I have enjoyed in a plane. Autumn sunlight shone over the small city and the surrounding hills, mountains and plains, all of which were covered in well-watered greenery or bright orange and yellow leaves that showed it was early November. With those views, I was introduced to a beautiful city that did not disappoint once I was exploring it by foot. Though I would love to experience the city and Slovenia during summer, the timing of my visit on this occasion showed a stunning side to the city as it prepared for winter.

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Photo Galleries · Travel

A little London visit

Since leaving London after two magical years there from 2013 to 2015, I had only visited once, for a few days shortly after my visa ended. I have been waiting for an opportunity to return, and the perfect chance came in September when two of my good friends happened to be visiting at the same time. It’s a very bittersweet thing to visit a city you used to call home — on one hand it makes you long for the days you spent there, while on the other you realise you don’t belong there anymore and can never go back. Still, visiting again with close friends who helped make the time living there so special was perfect, and I was effortlessly reminded of one thing that makes London such an extraordinary city — there is always more to discover, and you can never know completely.

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Work

Upcoming projects: 2017 Women’s World Championship & EHF EURO 2018

The approach of winter also means one of the busiest times of year, with two major international handball competitions held every December and January. I have covered every EHF EURO and World Championship since the end of 2014, and am now looking forward to the 23rd IHF Women’s World Championship in December 2017 in Germany, followed by the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia in January.

For both, preparation has been underway for some time, and some part of my work during the last couple of months has been the team profiles for both events. The team profiles for the Women’s World Championship will be published in a countdown format over the coming weeks as the tournament approaches, while the EHF EURO 2018 website is already very busy with coverage of the qualification process and features on teams.

For the EHF EURO 2018, I will be the website editor, responsible for most of the content while at the tournament. The website can be found here.

At the Women’s World Championship, I will be a journalist for the IHF, with all articles published on the official website here.

Travel · Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament travel: Algiers, Algeria

The 2017 summer of handball tournaments began in Algiers, Algeria in July. The concentration of competitions taking place over the summer has meant a busy couple of months for me from July to September since 2015, when I covered my first Men’s Junior World Championship, followed by the Youth World Championship. This year the Junior World Championship was held in Algiers, after which I travelled to Tbilisi, Georgia for the Men’s Youth World Championship.

In Algiers we stayed in a hotel with an incredible view across the city, overlooking a concert venue which treated me to live music many nights after I had finished coverage for the day. One hot, sunny morning was spent exploring parts of the city on a guided tour, where we visited the Kasbah and the Matyr’s Memorial. The Memorial du Martyr Mujahid Museum was a sad, but interesting and clear highlight of the day and visit to Algiers overall.

Random

A brilliant global commentary from McEwan’s ‘Nutshell’

The book currently keeping me awake past my bedtime and bringing bliss to lazy weekend mornings is Ian McEwan’s Nutshell. I have read other books of the same author before, but, for me, the writing in this one is astonishingly beautiful and clever, even by his standards. I continually find myself rereading sentences to appreciate them completely.

Two passages, in which the protagonist outlines the arguments presented in a podcast about the world as we know it right now, really stood out to me:

“…a bad dream in the guise of a formal lecture. The state of the world.

“An expert in international relations, a reasonable woman with a rich deep voice, advised me that the world was not well. She considered two common states of mind: self-pity and aggression. Each one a poor choice for individuals. In combination, for groups or nations, a noxious brew that lately intoxicated the Russians in Ukraine, as it once had their friends, the Serbs in their part of the world. We were belittled, now we will prove ourselves. Now that the Russian state was the political arm of organised crime, another war in Europe no longer inconceivable. Dust down the tank divisions for Lithuania’s southern border, for the north German plain. The same potion inflames the barbaric fringes of Islam. The cup is drained, the same cry goes up: we’ve been humiliated, we’ll be avenged.

“The lecturer took a dim view of our species, of which psychopaths are a constant fraction, a human constant. Armed struggle, just or not, attracts them. They help to tip local struggles into bigger conflicts. Europe, according to her, in existential crisis, fractious and weak as varieties of self-loving nationalism sip that same tasty brew. Confusion about values, the bacillus of Antisemitism incubating, immigration populations languishing, angry and bored. Elsewhere, everywhere, novel inequalities of wealth, the super rich a master race apart. Ingenuity deployed by states for new forms of brilliant weaponry, by global corporations to dodge taxes, by righteous banks to stuff themselves with Christmas millions.

“China, too big to need friends or counsel, cynically probing its neighbours’ shores, building islands of tropical sand, planning for the war it knows must come. Muslim-majority countries plagued by religious puritanism, by sexual sickness, by smothered invention. The Middle East, fast-breeder for a possible world war. And foe-of-convenience, the United States, barely the hope of the world, guilty of torture, helpless before its sacred text conceived in an age of powdered wigs, a constitution as unchallengeable as the Koran. Its nervous population obese, fearful, tormented by inarticulate anger, contemptuous of governance, murdering sleep with every new handgun. Africa yet to learn democracy’s party trick — the peaceful transfer of power. Its children dying, thousands by the week, for want of easy things — clean water, mosquito nets, cheap drugs. Uniting and levelling all humanity, the dull old facts of altered climate, vanishing forests, creatures and polar ice. Profitable and poisonous agriculture obliterating biological beauty.

“Oceans turning to weak acid. Well above the horizon, approaching fast, the urinous tsunami of the burgeoning old, cancerous and demented, demanding care. And soon, with demographic transition, the reverse, populations in catastrophic decline. Free speech no longer free, liberal democracy no longer the obvious port of destiny, robots stealing jobs, liberty in close combat with security, socialism in disgrace, capitalism corrupt, destructive and in disgrace, no alternatives in sight.

“In conclusion, she said, these disasters are the work of our twin natures. Clever and infantile. We’ve built a world too complicated and dangerous for our quarrelsome natures to manage. In such hopelessness, the general vote will be for the supernatural. It’s dusk in the second Age of Reason. We were wonderful, but now we are doomed.”

And the counterargument:

“Pessimism is too easy, even delicious, the badge and plume of intellectuals everywhere. It absolves the thinking classes of solutions. We excite ourselves with dark thoughts in plays, poems, novels, movies. And now in commentaries. Why trust this account when humanity has never been so rich, so healthy, so long-lived? When fewer die in wars and childbirth than every before — and more knowledge, more truth by way of science, was never so available to us all? When tender sympathies — for children, animals, alien religions, unknown, distant foreigners — swell daily? When hundreds of millions have been raised from wretched subsistence? When, in the West, even the middling poor recline in armchairs, charmed by music as they steer themselves down smooth highways at four times the speed of a galloping horse? When smallpox, polio, cholera, measles, high infant mortality, illiteracy, public executions and routine state torture have been banished from so many countries?

“Not so long ago, all these curses were everywhere. When solar panels and wind farms and nuclear energy and inventions not yet known will deliver us from the sewage of carbon dioxide, and GM crops will save us from the ravages of chemical farming and the poorest from starvation? When the worldwide migration to the cities will return vast tracts of land to wilderness, will lower birth rates, and rescue women from ignorant village patriarchs? What of the commonplace miracles that would make a manual labourer the envy of Caesar Augustus: pain-free dentistry, electric light, instant contact with people we love, with the best music the world has known, with the cuisine of a dozen cultures? We’re bloated with privileges and delights, as well as complaints, and the rest who are not will be soon.

“As for the Russians, the same was said of Catholic Spain. We expected their armies on our beaches. Like most things, it didn’t happen. The matter was settled by some fireships and a useful storm that drove their fleet round the top of Scotland.

“We’ll always be troubled by how things are — that’s how it stands with the difficult gift of consciousness.”