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10.06.2012, 22:13
First qualification phase completed
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Ukraine, Switzerland, Romania, Israel, Turkey and Latvia qualify for the next phase on the way to Denmark.
 

First qualification phase completed

After 24 matches in four venues across Europe the first stage of the qualification for the Men’s EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark had come to an end on Sunday evening.

Ukraine, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey qualified for the next stage as winners of their respective groups – but the question, which two second ranked teams would follow had to be decided in the very last of those 24 matches.

But after the game Italy vs. Great Britain in Bari (29:26), it was clear that Israel and Latvia were the two best second ranked teams in the four groups – with four points on their account like Italy, but with better goal difference.

Thanks to those results the seven groups of the second stage of the qualification are completed, two:

Group 1: Spain, FYR Macedonia, Portugal, Switzerland

Group 2: Germany, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Israel

Group 3: France, Norway, Lithuania, Turkey

Group 4: Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia

Group 5: Poland, Sweden, Netherlands, Ukraine

Group 6: Iceland, Slovenia, Belarus, Romania

Group 7: Serbia, Austria, Russia, Bosnia Herzegovina

The each first and second ranked teams of those seven groups qualify for the EHF EURO 2014. Best third ranked team from all groups qualify for the EHF EURO 2014 (taking into account matches against first and second raked teams)

Playing dates for Qualification Phase 2:
Round 1: 31 October/1 November 2012
Round 2:  3-4 November 2012
Round 3: 3-4 April 2013
Round 4: 6-7 April 2013
Round 5: 12-13 June 2013
Round 6: 15/16 June 2013

Summary of the four groups of qualification stage 1:

Group A in Nikosia´, Cyprus:

Ukraine have qualified easily for the next stage on the way to Denmark. Thanks to their third victory in three matches the team of top star Sergey Onufrienko remained with a clean sheet. In their final encounter against host Cyprus the Eastern Europeans left no doubt with a 37:22 victory which had been decided at the break, as the half-time score was 20:10.

The first game of the final match day in Nikosia ended with a surprise, as Luxemburg beat Finland 25:23 (14:9) and proofed their improvement after a strong second half against the Ukraine on Saturday. Cyprus, Luxemburg and Finland finished with two points on their account.

Group B in Bari, Italy:

The Swiss team celebrated, Greece left the court with heads hanging low: Switzerland finished the tournament in Bari in first position – and unbeaten: After the draw against Italy and the clear victory over Great Britain the team of coach Goran Perkovac beat Greece in the top duel in Bari 25:22 and qualified for the next stage of the qualification. 

But they had to wait until the final whistle – like they had to against Italy the day before. When Greece equalised at 22:22, Switzerland were in a one man disadvantage, but withstood the pressure thanks to goalkeeper Pascal Stauber (in total 13 saves).

With three straight goals the Swiss team took the victory and the direct qualification for the next stage. Vukelic (nine goals for Switzerland) and the Greek trio Mastrogiannis, Alvanos and Papdopoulos (each five goals) were the top scorers.

The 29:26 score against Great Britain was not enough for host Italy to reach the next stage of the qualification. The Italians would have needed to beat the British team with a distance of 27 goals to overtake Latvia as the second best second ranked team of all four groups.

Group C in Rishon Le Zion, Israel:

Romania were the lucky winners of a real handball thriller and booked their ticket for the next qualification stage directly.

Despite a great performance, hosts Israel were defeated 25:26 after leading 12:10 at the break.

The host started strong, led 6:2 before the Romanians scored five straight goals. The game remained on an equal level with the lead changing constantly until the 57 minute, when Romania decided the game at 24:21.

But the Israelis were not that disappointed as they knew that they would qualify for the next stage, too, with four points on their account and a better goal difference of +41. Top scorer was Chen Pomeranz (Israel) with six goals.

The game against Romania was the last one for national team coach Shlomo Hoffmann, who retired after 211 matches on the Israel bench.

Before, Belgium had taken their second qualification victory in the history of EHF EURO qualifiers. By beating debutant Ireland clearly 40:11 (18:7) the Benelux team secured the third place ahead of the Irish.

Group D in Mersin, Turkey:

Turkey were the only host of the four qualification tournaments to finish on top of the rankings: Thanks to their expected clear 37:17 victory against debutant Malta the Turkish team qualified for the next stage of the qualification process.

The Baltic duel Estonia vs. Latvia – the opener of the final day – had ended with a 27:27 draw, which meant that Latvia had secured the second place ahead of their neighbours.

Estonia were below nearly all the game, whilst Latvia seemed to be on the winner’s way with a 24:20 lead. But then Estonia caught-up, equalised at 25:25 and even took the lead at 27:26.

Dainis Kristopans secured the draw with the last Latvian chance. Latvian top scorers were Tuminskis (8) and Kristopans.

And the final Kristopans goal paved the way to the next qualification stage. Latvia had to shiver a little until the final whistle of the Italy vs. Great Britain match,  but secured the place of the second best second ranked team thanks to their goal difference of +26.


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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