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European boarding for Poland/Sweden 2023 is completed

MAL7445 V EHF / Björn Pazen

All 15 European participants for the IHF Men’s 2023 World Championship in Sweden and Poland are confirmed. Portugal, Montenegro and North Macedonia won their second leg matches of the final qualification stage.

Portugal (against the Netherlands) and Montenegro (against Greece) were the only two sides in eight pairings to turn deficits from the first leg matches in to tickets for the World Championship, which will be staged in nine Swedish and Polish cities from 10 to 29 January 2023.

Filip Kuzmanosvki had a stroke of fortune with his late penalty goal to seal a 27:25 win for North Macedonia against Czech Republic, making the full crowd in Skopje go wild.

Besides the hosts Poland and Sweden and defending world champions Denmark, Spain, France and Norway had already qualified by their final ranking at the EHF EURO 2022. Belgium will have their historic debut at a World Championship after beating Slovakia in aggregate in the first play-off round.

Those European teams have clinched their berth for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship:

Hosts: Sweden, Poland
Defending World Champions: Denmark
From the EHF EURO 2022: Spain, France, Norway
From the play-offs: Belgium, Hungary, Croatia, Iceland, Serbia, Germany, Portugal, Montenegro, North Macedonia

From outside Europe these teams have already booked their tickets:
Asia:
Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran Korea
South America:
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile

Still ahead are the qualification events of Africa (22 June to 2 July in Morocco / five teams to qualify) and North America (26 July to 1 July / one team). Besides, the IHF will award two teams with wild cards for the championship.

Men’s World Championship 2023 qualification phase 2, part 2, second leg:

Netherlands vs Portugal 28:35 (15:17)
first leg: 33:30, in aggregate: 61:65 to Portugal

  • after 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2021, Portugal qualified for their fifth Men’s World Championship - their best result was tenth position in 2021
  • Portugal were the first team in this competition stage to turn a deficit from the first leg into the ticket for the 2023 World Championship – and did so on away ground
  • after being the overall top scorer of the thrilling European League Last 16 Sporting vs Magdeburg, 19-year-old Martim Costa was Portugal’s hero in Eindhoven by scoring eight goals, his 17-year-old brother Francisco netted three times
  • after only 18 minutes, Portugal had turned the deficit around in a match where the home side never held the lead
  • with nothing to choose between the teams 15 minutes before the end, Portugal decisively pulled ahead with a 4:0 run and finally decided the match at 32:26 in minute 56

Montenegro vs Greece 33:25 (16:12)
first leg: 23:25, in aggregate: 56:50 to Montenegro

  • after sensationally eliminating Sweden in the play-offs for the 2013 World Championship finishing 22nd of 24 teams), now Montenegro clinched the berth for the second time
  • after 14 saves in the first leg at Greece, Montenegro’s goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic was even stronger on home ground, his 18 saves provided his side with the clear win they needed
  • besides the impressive goalkeeper performance, Branko and Milos Vujovic were the keys for the hosts, combining for 15 of 33 Montenegrin goals
  • already at the break, the gap was virtually enough for Montenegro, but Greece found a way back into the contest, cutting the deficit to 21:20, inspired by Dimitrios Tziras
  • but Montenegro found a second wind and had all but booked their ticket when they extended the lead to 27:21 in the final quarter

North Macedonia vs Czech Republic 27:25 (14:12)
first leg: 24:24, in aggregate: 51:49 to North Macedonia

  • like in the play-offs for the 2017 World Championship in France (56:55 in aggregate), the Macedonians eliminated the Czech Republic
  • North Macedonia have their eighth Men’s World Championship ahead, while the Czechs have not been part of the event since 2015, after they had to cancel their participation in 2021 due to too many Covid cases
  • after the equal first leg, the whole rematch was on the edge, even as the Czechs had not been ahead since going 4:3 up, they managed to stay within touch throughout
  • both goalkeepers were on fire, Macedonian Nikola Mitrevski saved 14 shots, Czech Tomas Mrkva (the hero in the first leg with 18 saves) finally had 13 stops on his tally
  • the ninth and final goal of Filip Kuzmanovski, which dribbled past Mrkva 12 seconds before the end, provided the hosts with the ticket to the World Championship

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