Which youths will have the greatest influence on 2023 IHF Men’s Handball World Championship in Poland and Sweden?
Most men’s handball stars emerge in their teens, and even then, few make it to the top of the national team before the age of 20.
Below are six players under the age of 23, some of whom have already shown their skills on the biggest stages of club handball.
Read on to find out who they are and why they may be making headlines in the January 11-29 tournament.
Domen Makuc (Slovenia)
Long seen as one of the future stars of handball, Makuc domain he was the youngest member of the Slovenian team that won the 2018 European U20 Championship on home soil.
In July 2020, he took a big step to Barcelona from RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko and fit in almost immediately, helping the Catalans win the EHF Champions League title for the first time in six years before defending their crown in June.
makuc is versatile talent at center back, gifted with a sharp mind and quick feet, as well as a good range of passing. He can sneak into the goal line from time to time to score from close range, and has the pace to go solo for a quick break.
The 22-year-old already looks set to become a regular for Barça in the coming years and hopes to lead Slovenia to at least the quarter-finals. all-time bronze in 2017.
They will have to improve their performance at last year’s EHF EURO, where they lost by just one goal to Montenegro and were eliminated in the play-offs.
Viktor Hallgrimsson (Iceland)
Icelandic Wiktor Hallgrimsson cemented his reputation as one of the best young handball goalkeepers by being named to the All-Star team for EHF EURO 2022.
This is confirmed by the extremely impressive first season in HBC Nantes in France after three successful years on the Danish GOG site.
Standing at 2.03m, the 22-year-old from Reykjavik is an imposing figure between the sticks but has the speed and agility to match his height.
Two-time reigning Icelandic athlete of the year Omar Inga Magnusson is the star of the team and recently won his second IHF Super Globe title with SC Magdeburg.
But while Magnusson will be tasked with scoring goals, Hallgrimsson is more than capable of stopping them.
Hassan Kaddah (Egypt)
Egypt demanded them the first ever Youth Men’s World Championship in 2019defeating Germany in the final in North Macedonia.
Young Pharaohs were distinguished by two players: MVP Ahmed Mohamedwho currently plays for USAM Nimes in France and is the top scorer of the tournament Hassan Kadda.
Both men traveled to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021 and were part of the Egyptian team that reached the semi-finals, leaving for France.
Mohamed actually spent more time in Tokyo, although Kaddah scored four goals in the bronze medal game against Spain.
In October, Kaddah signed a deal whereby he would leave Zamalek HC for Polish giants Lomza Industria Kielce before the next season.
As if to prove the value of the transfer, the 22-year-old left-back showed off his immense goalscoring prowess during his loan spell with the Saudi team Khalee at the IHF Super Globe later this month.
He topped the goal list again, he found the net 45 times in just four games including 11 against eventual champions SC Magdeburg, 14 in a win over SL Benfica and 16 against Esperance de Tunis.
At 2.05m, he is one of the tallest players in handball and boasts a fearsome shot.
Egypt not short of options at left-back with Kadda, Mohamed and Dinamo Bucuresti star Ali Zein everyone prefers to play this position.
They may need to reshuffle the pack a bit so that all three can play key roles, especially if Kaddah continues his prolific form.
Eric Johansson (Sweden)
Left rear Eric Johansson he has already gone from being a talented youngster to a European star.
After two excellent seasons in the Swedish league with the Norwegian club from his hometown Eskilstuna Guif Elverum beat several teams THW Kiel until his signature in May 2021.
But just eight months later, after some strong performances on Sweden’s journey to glory at EHF EURO 2022, the German giants from Kiel have rekindled interest and struck a deal to take over Johansson’s services from next season.
Before making his move, he helped Elverum win a third consecutive Norwegian league title and reach the EHF Champions League play-offs, where they lost to Paris Saint-Germain, who boasted of Nikola Karabatic and Polish lineman Kamil Syprzak.
His 75 goals in 18 Champions League matches was the second-highest tally for Elverum, behind another rising star, the Norwegian centre-back Tobias Grondahlwho scored 81 goals.
Johansson continues his excellent form in Kiel, scoring the most Champions League goals for them 28 goals in six games from breaking a finger bone during training.
The 22-year-old recovered in time for the World Cup and will be key to Sweden’s hopes of going one better than in 2021 and winning its first world crown since 1999.
While he is best known for his powerful long-range shots, he can be subtle when it comes to providing assists and scoring goals.
Francisco Costa (Portugal)
At only 17, right back Francisco Mota da Costa is already one of the hottest properties in handball.
“Kiko” and older brother Martim20, he started at FC Porto, but both followed his father, the coach Ricardo Costadown Sports CP when he transferred at the start of the 2021/22 season.
The siblings both made their international debuts in World championship play-offs against the Netherlands which Portugal won and the Dutch needed a wildcard.
They were similarly successful in the EHF Europa League, where Kiko scored 61 goals and left Martim 51 on defense in their run to the round of 16, where they faced German powerhouses SC Magdeburg.
And then, in July’s U20 European Championships on home soil, Kiko was the winner top scorer of the tournament with 58 goals – including 11 in the final – Portugal won silver behind Spain.
He’s maintained that form in the Europa League this season, scoring 49 goals in eight matches so far, so he’s definitely something to watch out for.
Michal Olejniczak (Poland)
A member of the star and cosmopolitan team Lomza Industria Kielce, Michal Olejniczak he had limited opportunities to show himself in the EHF Champions League.
But the young centre-back remains an interesting prospect and will learn a lot from watching the Croatians Igor Karacic take the starting place in Kielce.
He was competing with another young man Piotr J?draszczyk for the first-choice quarterback for Poland at EHF EURO 2022 and will again be looking for new club mates Arkadiusz Moryto and Szymon Sicko with chances to score.
He can also score by using his tall 1.95m frame to pierce or shoot at long range.
This will be the fourth major tournament for the 21-year-old Olejniczak, who played at two EHF EUROs and the 2021 World Championship.