Iceland into handball knockout stage

A strong and confident Icelandic men’s handball team has beat Macedonia last night to secure a place in the knockout stage of the 2019 world championship in Germany and Denmark.

After losing to both Croatia and Spain, Iceland needed to win all its remaining Group B matches, against Bahrain, Japan, and Macedonia.

A convincing victory over Bahrain energised the team to push past a much stronger Japanese team before the even bigger challenge of Macedonia: on-form, well-organised, and unforgiving.

Macedonia actually controlled much of the game, but Iceland were never far behind—despite being two goals down at half time. Mid-way through the second half, Iceland took the lead and did not fall behind again. The final five minutes were frantic, but the game ended 24-22 in Iceland’s favour.

Arnór Þór Gunnarsson scored ten goals and was named man of the match, though team coach Guðmundur Guðmundsson praised all his players—saying that the young team has already done better than expected by staying in the competition beyond the group stage.

The team will face France or Germany this Saturday evening.