Iceland’s Return to Handball World Stage Ends in Defeat Skip to content
Stavanger, Norway
Photo: Timeout at the 2023 World Championships (Screenshot from RÚV).

Iceland’s Return to Handball World Stage Ends in Defeat

Iceland’s women’s handball team lost 30-24 to Slovenia in their first World Championship match in 12 years. The team will face Olympic champions France tomorrow.

First major tournament in 11 years

The Icelandic women’s national handball team suffered a 30-24 defeat against Slovenia in their opening match in Group D at the Women’s Handball World Championship in Stavanger, Norway yesterday. 

The game marked Iceland’s first appearance in a World Championship final in 12 years and their first in a major tournament in 11 years. 

The result increases the likelihood that Iceland and Angola will face off in a decisive match for a spot in the intermediate round in the final game of the group.

Comeback ultimately thwarted

As noted by, there was evident nervousness among the Icelandic players at the start of the game. Early mistakes in offence allowed Slovenia to capitalise with rapid counter-attacks, resulting in a significant early lead of 11-4. Iceland rallied impressively towards the end of the first half, closing the gap to 16-13 at halftime.

The teams exchanged goals in the second half, with Iceland putting on a strong mid-half performance to bring the score to a narrow 20-19. Despite this effort, Iceland couldn’t level the score, and Slovenia extended their lead to 24-20 with ten minutes left.

After a strategic timeout, Iceland managed to score two quick goals, cutting Slovenia’s lead to 24-22. But Slovenia’s three subsequent goals lessened Iceland’s chances of a reversal. Iceland’s valiant attempt to recover from a six-goal deficit proved insufficient against Slovenia’s experienced team, who leveraged their expertise in the game’s crucial moments.

Next up: the Olympic champions

Perla Ruth Albertsdóttir, Sandra Erlingsdóttir, and Thea Imani Sturludóttir each scored five goals for Iceland. Elín Rósa Magnúsdóttir scored four. Goalkeeper Elín Jóna Þorsteinsdóttir made nine saves in the Icelandic goal. 

Iceland’s next match in the group is against the Olympic champions, France, on Saturday.

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