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Crunch clashes to decide World Championship spots

20221106 AH 3577 2 EHF / Adrian Costeiu

Eight places at the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship berths will be handed out this weekend as qualification for the tournament which will take place next January in Poland and Sweden concludes.

The eight teams will join hosts Poland and Sweden, reigning champions Denmark, France, Norway, Spain and the surprise package of this qualification, Belgium.

The winners of each tie will be determined based on the final aggregate scores of both legs. All matches will be streamed live on EHFTV.

  • after losing by a single goal against Hungary in the first leg, 33:32, Israel still hold hopes to earn their first World Championship berth as they travel to Tatabanya for the second leg
  • Slovenia will need a miracle to turn the tables against Serbia, after the 31:34 home loss in Celje, as they are on the verge on missing out the World Championship for the second time in six years
  • Iceland’s left wing Bjarki Mar Elisson was the top scorer of the first leg across the eight matches, scoring 11 times in their win against Austria, 34:30
  • securing the largest wins in the first leg, Croatia (34:21 against Finland) and Germany (34:26 against Faroe Islands) are huge favourites to progress to the final tournament
  • despite losing against Greece in the first leg, 25:23, Montenegro will have a chance to progress to the World Championship for the first time since 2013
  • with their attacking-minded game, the Netherlands are close to sealing their first Men’s World Championship spot since 1961, needing to protect a three-goal lead against Portugal

Experienced teams eye comebacks

On paper, the most balanced games were the ones between Slovenia and Serbia, which ended with a 34:31 win for the guests, and the Czech Republic vs North Macedonia tie, which ended in a draw, 24:24. Despite scoring four goals in the first leg, player-coach Kiril Lazarov will need to be in top shape for the challenge of Czech Republic, whose coach, Xavi Sabate, inspired a late draw, after a 4:0 run to end the game.

A game that will also instil passion in the stands is Montenegro vs Greece in Podgorica. Greece had a 25:20 lead, but failed to score in the last nine minutes of the first leg, handing Montenegro a lifeline. It would be Greece’s second participation at the IHF Men’s World Championship, the first one since 2005, and the stakes are huge in this tie.

Men’s World Championship 2023 qualification phase 2, part 2, second leg
All matches live on EHFTV

Saturday, 16 April
Hungary vs Israel, 17:30 CEST, first leg: 33:32
Croatia vs Finland, 18:00 CEST, first leg: 34:21
Iceland vs Austria, 18:00 CEST, first leg: 34:30
Serbia vs Slovenia, 18:00 CEST, first leg: 34:31
Faroe Islands vs Germany, 20:00 CEST, first leg: 26:34

Sunday, 17 April
Netherlands vs Portugal, 14:00 CEST, first leg: 33:30
Montenegro vs Greece, 18:00 CEST, first leg: 23:25
North Macedonia vs Czech Republic, 19:00 CEST, first leg: 24:24

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