North Macedonia power to final weekend in Latvia
The M18 EHF Championship 2 in Latvia is set for the title-deciding weekend, with the semi-finals to be played on Saturday and the medal games on Sunday. North Macedonia and Switzerland are the only teams that arrive at the final weekend unbeaten and are set to battle for the medals along with Latvia and Luxembourg.
The seven teams competing at the championship in Latvia were reduced to four after the preliminary round, which took place from Monday to Thursday. The four semi-finalists qualified as the top ranked sides in their preliminary round groups.
- Saturday’s semi-finals see North Macedonia play Luxembourg at 15:00 CEST and Switzerland meet Latvia at 17:00 CEST
- the finals will be played on Sunday, with the 3/4 placement match at 14:00 CEST and the final at 16:00 CEST
- Türkiye, Belgium and Kosovo will continue with the 5–7 cross-matches on Saturday and Sunday
- North Macedonia topped group A with three wins in three games, ahead of Latvia with two victories. Türkiye ranked third and Kosovo finished fourth on the group A table
- Switzerland won the three-team group B thanks to the maximum four points from their two matches, while Luxembourg were second with two points following a win over Belgium
- North Macedonia’s Aleksandar Petkovski is the top scorer of the competition after the preliminary round, with 25 goals. Latvia’s Jevgenijs Rogonovs is close behind with 23
- the winners of the trophy will qualify for both the M20 EHF EURO 2024 and the 2023 Youth World Championship
North Macedonia favourites in title race
North Macedonia are not only one of the unbeaten teams ahead of the semi-finals — and after entirely decisive wins — but count some of the top individuals in the competition in their midst. Adding to Petkovsi’s shooting efforts, at the other end of the court, both goalkeepers have made their mark: Ivan Galevski holds a 53.9 per cent save rate with 21 stops so far, while David Brestovac has faced more shots and made more saves (29), recording a save rate of 43.3 per cent.
Competing in the four-team preliminary round group A, North Macedonia rose to the occasion and earned three dominant victories. Their lowest score line was 10 goals against second-ranked Latvia in round 3, 33:23. They started the competition with a 34:19 win against Türkiye and a 39:16 result versus Kosovo. North Macedonia are the only team to have scored more than 100 goals in the competition so far, with 106.
The group B winners Switzerland made their way to the top of the table with one dominant victory and one close call, recording a 39:18 win against Belgium then a 28:26 victory over Luxembourg.