Chile aim to impress on back of historic 2019 campaign
The 27th IHF Men’s World Championship will represent Chile’s sixth consecutive and overall participation in the pinnacle event following their debut in 2011, and they will do so fresh from their best ever ranking.
After four World Championships where Chile placed between 21st and 23rd, they jumped to 16th in 2019, thanks to some great performances in the preliminary round. After being the unlucky draw to open the World Championship co-hosted by Denmark and Germany against Denmark in Copenhagen, which saw Chile’s first defeat of the event on the board, the South American side took what was only their second preliminary round win in history, versus Austria. They later added another victory, against Saudi Arabia, which meant a final ranking of fourth on the preliminary round table – only one position short of reaching the main round.
Chile then contested the 13-16 placement round, where they were defeated by 2015 World Championship runners-up Qatar and lost narrowly to North Macedonia, thereby settling into 16th place.
Chile’s first preliminary round win had come in 2017 in France, when they beat Belarus – who would go on to contest the knock-out stage – in the opening match. The South American side can therefore see tangible progress on the international stage and will be aiming for a strong showing in a difficult group at Egypt 2021.
Chile were the last to join the line-up for the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship, as they were among the sides scheduled to contest the South and Central America (SCA) ‘Last Chance Tournament’. Due to difficulties with holding the event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South and Central America Handball Confederation (SCAHC) requested direct nomination of the team of Chile, based on their ranking of fourth at the 2020 Men’s South and Central America Championship in January. The IHF Council approved this request, and thus Chile’s ticket to Egypt 2021 was booked.
The 2020 edition was the first of the SCA Championship, and Chile’s final ranking of fourth was a disappointment considering they had consistently featured among the medallists at Pan American Championships and Games for several years prior – four bronze medals and one silver at the Championships held every two years from 2010 to 2018, and two bronze and one silver at the Games held every four years from 2011 to 2019.
At the 2020 SCA Championship, it was Uruguay’s strong performance that upset what had become the usual front-running positions, with Argentina and Brazil remaining the clear top sides in the region while Uruguay booked their first ever World Championship appearance with their third-place finish.
Over the past two years then, it seems Chile’s fortunes have swung wildly, from their best ever World Championship campaign in 2019 to their disappointment at the SCA Championship held earlier this year. Undoubtedly, the regional event will have resulted in a wake-up call, and the chance to climb the global rankings further will be one Chile do not take lightly.
At Egypt 2021, Chile will once again start against the World Championship hosts, taking on the African champions in Round 1, before meeting Sweden and Czech Republic. It will be a tough battle for Chile to secure one of the top three positions in the group and book a main round place, but their opponents will certainly be aware of the danger of underestimating the South American team.