A championship with many contendersArticle
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PREVIEW: With France going into the tournament as top favourites, there are still a number of sides that could snatch gold at the Men’s U19 World Championship in Russia

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A championship with many contenders

France, who won the Men’s 18 EURO last year are chasing yet another triumph, as the U19 World Championship throws off in Ekaterinburg in Russia on Friday.

According to many experts, including coaches from other participating nations, France have a great chance of adding yet another title to their status as senior and U21 World champions as well as European senior champions and Olympic champions.

However, there are several other nations, mainly from the 13 European teams, who could cause an upset and a lot of voices are calling this the most closely contested youth World Championships ever.

“There are probably 10 to 12 teams who can win the title. However, France are probably the biggest favourites with silver medalists from the EURO last year Hungary in a close second.

A team like Germany, on the other hand, also look interesting,” says Morten Henriksen, coach by Denmark who arrived in Ekatarinburg with several players from the Danish top league.

The Danes go into this tournament as the team with the most Men’s U19 World Championships with three title wins.

Croatia are second in that ranking and their coach Hrvoje Horvat has made it clear that his team have come to the Ural capital to do considerably better than last year’s tenth position finish in Poland.

“Typically for Croatian national junior teams, the aim is to reach the semi-finals and to compete for the medals,” Horvat recently told the official website of the tournament.

Hungary, runners-up at the U18 EURO in Poland last year, are also striving for more.

“We come to Russia as current runners-up in Europe in this age group, and the silver medals from Gdansk are something we are proud of. But our task is to keep our place among the leading handball countries in the world despite the changes in our team,” commented the Hungarian head coach Janos Gyurka.

However, no one can write off Iceland either, after they won the European Open in Gothenburg, Sweden earlier this summer.

And speaking of Sweden, the team under coach Ulf Nyström is also considered to be in and among the contenders for the title. The Swedish outfit containing interesting players such as rising star playmaker Felix Claar who travels to Russia with valuable VELUX EHF Champions League experience from Alingsas HK.

The first ball of the championship will be thrown in the Palace of Sport “Divs” at 19.00 local time when hosts Russia face Algeria.

Live streaming of selected games can be found here.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc