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World Championship

Next steps towards Poland/Sweden 2023

EHF / Björn Pazen

Seven matches in the first qualification stage for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden will be carried out this week.

While group 1 — the only one with the full competition format of home and away matches — continues with rounds 3 and 4 from Wednesday to Sunday, group 3 will be decided in a tournament in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The last tournament of this stage will then be staged in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, from 14­–16 January 2022.

UPDATE 6 January: this article has been updated following the withdrawal of Cyprus from the group 3 tournament due to Covid-19 cases in their team.

In total, 15 teams that did not qualify for the EHF EURO 2022 will fight for eight spots in the next stage of the competition, with two teams per group to proceed. The first two tickets were taken by Finland and Estonia in a tournament in November.

Cyprus would have been the 16th team, but withdraw from the competition on Thursday (6 January) following several positive Covid-19 cases within the squad.

Those eight teams that progress will face the eight lowest ranked teams of the EHF EURO 2022 in home and away matches in the first play-off round from 14 to 20 March 2022. The eight aggregate winners of this stage will then proceed to the final qualification play-off round from 11 to 17 April 2022.

In the last play-off round, the remaining 10 teams participating in the EHF EURO 2022 who do not qualify directly for the World Championship will join the battle to reach the global competition.

Currently, only the joint-hosts Poland and Sweden and defending world champions Denmark are confirmed as participants for 2023. The two EHF EURO 2022 finalists will also book their tickets directly.

Turkey vs Belgium
Wednesday 5 January, 17:00 CET
Kosovo vs Greece
Wednesday 5 January, 19:15 CET

Belgium vs Turkey
Saturday 8 January, 20:15 CET
Greece vs Kosovo
Sunday 9 January, 14:00 CET

  • after two rounds, Greece have the maximum of four points after winning 29:27 in Belgium and 24:20 against Turkey. Two more victories against Kosovo would secure Greece a spot in the next stage
  • Greece and Kosovo have never faced each other in any official match before
  • Turkey beat Kosovo 25:23 to currently rank second in this group, ahead of Belgium and Kosovo, who each count one point after a 28:28 draw in their mutual duel
  • Turkey defeated Belgium in the 2021 World Championship qualification, but Belgium took three points against Turkey in the two matches in the 2019 World Championship qualification
  • Kosovo still wait for their first ever victory in World Championship qualification, but proved their strength with a draw against Poland in an EHF EURO 2020 qualifier and by gaining three points against Romania in the qualification for the EHF EURO 2022
  • the remaining two rounds for this group will be played between 12 and 16 January 2022


In November, Finland and Estonia clinched their berth for the play-off stage. On home ground in Vantaa, Finland finished unbeaten with five points from three matches, while the Estonians finished second with four points, ahead of Georgia and Great Britain.


Romania vs Israel
Friday 7 January, 18:00 CET
Israel vs Moldova
Saturday 8 January, throw-off time tbc
Moldova vs Romania
Sunday 9 January, 18:00 CET

(all matches in in Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

  • Romania have been part of 14 Men’s World Championships — but the last time was in 2011
  • Israel and Romania both played the EHF EURO 2022 qualifiers but finished fourth in their groups — Israel with two points; Romania with three
  • Romania eliminated Israel in the play-offs for the final stage of the EHF EURO 2018 qualification with two victories (32:21 and 30:27)
  • Moldova are playing their first ever World Championship qualification. In June 2021, they were part of the EHF/IHF Trophy and finished third in a group with Cyprus, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. They lost the duel with Cyprus 28:30
  • Moldova’s biggest success so far was winning the 2012 Challenge Trophy final against Faroe Islands 30:28 on the fringe of the EHF EURO in Kombank Arena, Belgrade
  • Cyprus were the fourth participant in group 3 but withdrew from the competition due to several positive Covid-19 cases in the team
  • Cyprus will officially remain in the schedule and the ranking of the tournament, with all matches validated with a 0:10 result and 0:2 points in favour of the respective opponent.


  • Latvia, Italy, Luxembourg and Faroe Islands will play their tournament in Torshavn, Faroe Islands on 14–16 January 2022


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