Iceland’s men’s junior handball team ended a 30-year medal drought by winning bronze at the 2023 IHF Junior World Championship with a score of 27:23 against Serbia. The stadium echoed with the legendary “Icelandic clap” during their celebratory moment.In the first half of the game, Serbia took control and led with the outstanding performance of their goalkeeper, Luka Krivokapi?. He saved seven shots with an efficiency rate of 77.7% within the first 11 minutes, setting the pace and strategy for the team.
Despite this, Iceland’s goalkeeper Brynjar Vignir Sigurjónsson also showed great tenacity, stopping 10 shots with 50% efficiency in the first half. Iceland was not discouraged and went on a 3:0 run, ending the first half on a high note and tying the game at 13:13.The second half saw a resurgence from Iceland, with Benedikt Gunnar Óskarsson leading another 3:0 run that turned the tables on Serbia. Once left back Thorsteinn Leó Gunnarsson found his rhythm, Iceland gained their first lead of the game (21:19) with only 14 minutes left on the clock. From that point, the battle between the goalkeepers re-intensified, as Krivokapi? and Sigurjónsson fought to secure their team’s victory.
Sigurjónsson, supported by Iceland’s stalwart defence, managed to take the upper hand in this matchup.Iceland’s Thorsteinn Leó Gunnarsson, named the hummel Player of the Match, displayed a spectacular performance, scoring eight goals and leading the Icelandic charge. Despite Serbia’s Miloš Kos scoring six goals, increasing his tournament tally to 50, Serbia was unable to break Iceland’s strong defence.With the final score standing at 27:23, the Icelandic team and their supporters broke into jubilant cheers, marking their second-ever medal at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship.
Iceland’s victory underlines the fact that in handball, it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.Iceland’s bronze win signals the rise of a new generation in the world handball scene, ready to build on this victory and shape the future of Icelandic handball. Though Serbia’s championship journey ended in disappointment, the team showcased promising talent that could shape the future of senior handball over the next years.
Picture take from the IHF website.