The 2023 IHF World Men’s Handball Championship ( International Handball Federation ) sees 32 of the best teams from around the world battle it out for the title on courts in Poland and Sweden.
The tournament kicks off on January 11, with Olympic champions France taking on co-hosts Poland in the city of. Katowice. The final takes place in Stockholm on the 29th of January.
Denmark is the defending champion, with Mikkel Hansen and as one of the candidates for a hat-trick of titles, having lost to France in the final of Tokyo 2020.
Sweden were the beaten finalists two years ago in Egypt, with Spain taking third place and France fourth.
There is an extra incentive for teams as the winners will be guaranteed an automatic berth at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It will go to runners-up if France – already qualified as the host country – wins.
Keep reading for the preview and the stars in action ahead of the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship.
When will the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship take place?
The 28th edition of the World Men’s Handball Championship takes place from 11 to 29 January 2023.
Who will compete in the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship?
Germany (GER), Saudi Arabia (SAR), Algeria (ALG), Argentina (ARG), Bahrain (BAH), Belgium (BEL), Brazil (BRA), Cape Verde (CPV), Qatar (QAT), Chile (CHI) ), Croatia (CRO), Denmark (DEN), Egypt (EGY), Slovenia (SLO), Spain (ESP), United States (USA), France (FRA), Hungary (HUN), Iceland (ISL), North Macedonia North (MKD), Morocco (MAR), Montenegro (MNE), Norway (NOR), Netherlands (NED), Poland (POL), Portugal (POR), Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), Republic of Korea (KOR) , Serbia (SRB), Sweden (SUE), Tunisia (TUN) and Uruguay (URU).
2023 Men’s Handball World Championship groups
- Group A: Spain, Montenegro, Chile and Islamic Republic of Iran;
- Group B: France, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Slovenia;
- Group C: Sweden, Brazil, Cape Verde and Uruguay.
- Group D: Iceland, Portugal, Hungary and Republic of Korea;
- Group E: Germany, Qatar, Serbia and Algeria.
- Group F: Norway, North Macedonia, Argentina and Netherlands.
- Group G: Egypt, Croatia, Morocco and United States.
- Group H: Denmark, Belgium, Bahrain and Tunisia.
The last five teams join the line-up following the conclusion of the 2022 African Championship, and the groups for the 28th IHF Men's World Championship preliminary round are now finalised ✅ Here's what we have to look forward to in January 2023 🙌#POLSWE2023 pic.twitter.com/DlazFzIqFA
— International Handball Federation (@ihf_info) July 19, 2022
2023 Men’s Handball World Championship favorites
Denmark is chasing a third consecutive world title, but has a rematch in mind after losing to France in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic final.
The two European powerhouses will, of course, be among the favourites, but neither reached the European Championship final in January 2022 , when Sweden beat Spain.
All 27 previous World Championships have been won by European nations , with 2015 hosts Qatar being the only team from outside Europe to reach the final.
Outside the big four, Iceland are a team to keep an eye on after beating France – despite having eight players out due to Covid – in the main round of the last European Championship, before falling in the semi-finals. Norway and Germany are also very capable of going deep in big tournaments.
After the campaign until the semifinals of Tokyo 2020, the African champion Egypt will lose Yahia Omar , from Telekom Veszprem (Hungary) due to injury, but even so, the Egyptians have a chance of podium.
Meanwhile, Tunisia showed they are not to be underestimated by winning the recent Four Nations Cup in Krakow with victories over hosts Poland , Brazil and the Republic of Korea .
Bahrain and Qatar carry Asia’s hopes, with the former reaching the quarter-finals in Tokyo.
While the top three from each group in the preliminary round advance to the next round, the points against the other qualifiers remain, so it is vital to win matches from the beginning.
On paper, Group E looks the most challenging, with Germany, Qatar and Serbia likely to advance, but possibly losing points in the process.
The United States returns to participate in the World Championship after 22 years, having been forced to withdraw two years ago due to Covid. They will go after their first win after six tournaments without a win.
They landed in Group G alongside Morocco , whose players can draw inspiration from their compatriots who reached the FIFA World Cup semi-finals last December. The clash will almost certainly decide who will take third place behind Egypt and Croatia .
Stars to watch at the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship
Defender Jim Gottfridsson was the driving force behind Sweden’s European title last year, claiming the MVP (Most Valuable Athlete) award for the second time, having previously won it in 2018.
At the last World Championship, the star of SG Flensburg-Handewitt (Germany) was chosen for the team of the tournament, with Sweden winning the silver medal.
They will be eager to improve and the support of the home crowd will see them through the entire tournament.
The ‘Bengan Boys’ , the famous team from the 90s that coach Bengt Johansson is named after , won the World Cups in 1990 and 1999, but since then Sweden has not touched the trophies again.
If they succeed this time, a lot will depend on Gottfridsson’s ability to create chances for his teammates and score goals.
With an imposing physical presence, at 1.92 m and 93 kg, the 30-year-old can command the attention of the defense in order to allow wingers Hampus Wanne and Niclas Ekberg – the top scorer at London 2012 , where Sweden won silver – work your magic.
Jim #Gottfridsson, the definition of 'reliable' 💪@SGFleHa @pickhandball #MOTW #ehfcl pic.twitter.com/yIkczFzGof
— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) April 7, 2022
While Mikkel Hansen still attracts most of the Danish team’s headlines, the 35-year-old veteran has some excellent players around him, including Mathias Gidsel .
Wing Gidsel was MVP at Tokyo 2020 despite Denmark losing the final to France. He was also named in last year’s European Championship squad.
He rose to stardom at the 2021 World Championships, playing a key role in his country’s successful title defense, but has admitted to struggling to cope with the attention at such a young age.
Gidsel sought professional help and hasn’t looked back since, even after his error in the dying seconds allowed the French to open up a decisive two-goal lead in the Olympic final.
Having joined Füchse Berlin (Germany) from Denmark’s GOG (Gudme Oure Gudbjerg) earlier this season, the 23-year-old has maintained his fine form despite being sidelined for several weeks with a thumb injury in his hand. of pitch. Gidsel is clearly happy in Berlin, having last month signed a contract extension until 2028.
With Hansen, Magnus Landin and a rich goalkeeping department courtesy of Landin’s brother Niklas , Kevin Møller and Emil Nielsen , Gidsel and Denmark are expected to once again be on top.
From a major championship debutant to world title winner and All-star Team member – 🇩🇰 Mathias Gidsel was one of the biggest revelations at #Egypt2021. To celebrate his 22nd birthday today, enjoy two of his incredible goals. Which is your favourite? 🔥 pic.twitter.com/6AdcKczURr
— International Handball Federation (@ihf_info) February 8, 2021
France boasts an all-star squad, but with three-time Olympic champion Nikola Karabatic nearing the end of his career, Dika Mem appears to be the only one to follow in that legacy.
The FC Barcelona (Spain) right winger has been a standout for the Spanish champions in recent years, leading the team to back-to-back European Champions League triumphs last June.
With lightning-fast speed and a ferocious shot, Mem is without a doubt one of the most exciting players in handball.
He and Nedim Remili offer France two powerful options down the right, with teammate Ludovic Fabregas and Luka Karabatic both imposing presences down the line.
France won the last of their six world titles on home soil in 2017 and will have a shot at a seventh, adding to their Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
What a 🇫🇷 connection between Dika Mem and Ludovic Fabregas! @FCBhandbol 🔵🔴
👉 Rate this incredible assistance ❓/10 #ehfcl pic.twitter.com/qUuSGTuYhH
— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) October 3, 2022
Small in stature, but certainly not in skill or heart, Luc Steins has become one of the stars of European handball.
The Dutchman was signed by Paris Saint-Germain (France) to try to fill the gap left when Nikola Karabatic ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in October 2020.
He may be eight inches shorter – and far less experienced – than the handball legend, but Steins soon had his new teammates working in unison.
Such were his playing skills that, when Karabatic returned to full form, he often switched to the left side to accommodate the younger player.
After a playoff loss to Portugal, the Netherlands received an invitation to their first participation in the World Championship since 1961.
Steins and SC Magdeburg (Germany) prolific right winger Kay Smits will be hoping to take the team to the second round for the first time, just as they did at last year’s European Championship.
𝒮𝐻𝐼𝒩𝐼𝒩𝒢 𝒮𝒯𝒜𝑅𝒮 🌟- Luc Steins 🇳🇱🍊
A clear example of an intelligent, skilful and fast 🌪️player. You don't need to be tall to master the game! 💥
A different way of playing and understanding handball! #ehfcl #showtimeforchampions ⚡ pic.twitter.com/YgYwWirEFq
— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) March 30, 2022
There will be many good goalkeepers on display in Poland and Sweden, and among them is the Egyptian Karim Hendawy .
In a team full of talents like Yahia Omar, left winger Ali Zein from Dinamo Bucharest (Romania) and right winger Mo Sanad , from Nimes (France), Hendawy shone in Tokyo 2020.
His 31.67% save percentage was equal to that of Dane Niklas Landin with only Germany’s Johannes Bitter – who has since retired from international handball – ahead at 33.33% (facing 96 shots compared to Hendawy’s 180 ).
While in Egypt, at Zamalek SC , the 34-year-old also saved more than 30 percent of the shots he faced at the last World Cup on home soil.
The Pharaohs have established themselves as genuine medal contenders in the last three major competitions and will be hoping to do better than fourth at the 2001 World Championships.
Brazil, Portugal and Cape Verde at the Men’s Handball World Cup
Brazil is going to its 16th participation in World Cups . The first time was in 1958 and the best placement was ninth place in 2019.
As part of the preparation for this year’s tournament, the Brazilian team participated in the Gjensidige Cup in Trondheim (Norway). In the campaign, victory over the United States by 27 to 22 and losses to the Norwegian hosts by 30 to 23 and to Portugal by 31 to 28, in the last game.
In this World Cup, Brazil is in group C, with Sweden, Cape Verde and another South American team, Uruguay. The debut will be against Sweden , on January 12 (Thursday) , in Gothenburg (Sweden).
The “Heróis do Mar” – as the players of the Portuguese men’s handball team are known – will participate for the fifth time in a World Championship edition . Like Brazil, the Portuguese were in the Gjensidige Cup and finished runner-up, after two victories (over the United States by 39 to 27 and over Brazil by 31 to 28).
In the last World Cup in 2021, the Portuguese advanced from the first stage after beating Iceland, Morocco and Algeria. Classified for the second part of the competition, they finished third in the group and did not qualify for the quarterfinals.
In the 2023 World Cup, Portugal is in group D, with Iceland, Republic of Korea and Hungary. The debut is on Thursday , the 12th , against Iceland .
African runners-up, the “Tubarões Azuis” (as the Cape Verdean men’s national team is known) participate in the World Cup for the second consecutive time , with the vast majority of athletes working in club handball in Europe.
As part of the preparation, he participated at the beginning of January, between the 5th and 8th, in the “Yellow Cup”, in Switzerland. In the tournament, they lost to Austria by 39 to 31 and to Japan by 31 to 19. Against the Swiss, they drew 29 to 29.
In the last World Cup, after the debut with a defeat against Hungary by 34 to 27, Cape Verde had to withdraw from the competition because it did not have the minimum number of athletes available, due to the fact that a large part of the delegation had tested positive for Covid-19.
At the 2023 World Cup, Cape Verde shares Group C with Brazil, Sweden and Uruguay. The first match will be against the Uruguayans , on January 12th (Thursday) , in Gothenburg (Sweden).
Where to watch the Handball World Championship 2023
The competition will be broadcast to Portugal via the RTP2 channel. Until the publication of this article, there was no confirmed transmission to Brazil.
🥈A vitória que valeu a 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐚 no Gjensidige Cup contada em fotos 🖼️
📸 Handball Today#heroisdomar #portugal #andebolportugal #jogossantacasa #lidlportugal #aguamonchique #4moove pic.twitter.com/MHHncVR89S
— Federação de Andebol de Portugal (@AndebolPortugal) January 8, 2023