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14.06.2013, 10:24
Gates to play-offs are open for Greece and Estonia
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Final matches in the first qualification phase for the EHF EURO 2016 throw off on 15/16 June. Even narrow defeats on home court would not stop the currently top ranked teams in groups 2 and 3
 

Gates to play-offs are open for Greece and Estonia

Final matches in the first qualification phase for the EHF EURO 2016 throw off on 15/16 June. Even narrow defeats on home court would not stop the currently top ranked teams in groups 2 and 3

After Finland already made it to the next stage of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification courtesy of Cyprus' home defeat against Luxembourg on Wednesday (12 June), Estonia and Greece are now close to follow the Finnish team.

These two so far unbeaten squads, topping groups 2 and 3 respectively, have the home right against their remaining 'hunters' – and due to quite clear away victories in their first legs, even narrow home defeats would not stop them on their way to the next stage.

The three group winners will progress to a knock-out phase where they will meet the three lowest ranked fourth placed teams from EHF EURO 2014 Qualification Phase 2 in two play-off matches, home and away, on 2/3 April 2014 and 5/6 April 2014.

The winners of these play-off matches will join the already qualified remaining participants for the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Phase 2.

 

Group 1: Finland vs. Cyprus; Saturday, 15 June, 17:30 hrs. local time in Kirkkonummi - first leg: 26:21

With five points in their account, Finland cannot be overtaken by Cyprus (two points) anymore.

If the hosts win the encounter, Luxemburg will finish second in this group after their clear away victory against Cyprus on Wednesday.

Therefore the Finnish team can already use the upcoming match to test their alternatives for the next stage.

 

Group 2: Greece vs. Italy; Saturday, 15 June, 19:00 hrs. local time in Larissa – first leg: 31:25

Three matches, three victories and an impressive goal difference of +47 speak a clear language in favour of Greece.

And following the six-goal advantage from the first leg the doubts for Greece not to reach the play-offs are arguably quite small.

The Greek team has the bigger experience, as they were part of the final qualification stages for both the EHF EURO events 2010 and 2012.

Anything else than the progressionsto the next round would be a major surprise, even though Italy have improved in the previous years.

 

Group 3: Estonia vs. Belgium; Sunday (16 June), 18:00 hrs. local time in Viljandi – first leg: 31:24

The last of the overall 18 qualification matches, that have been played in this phase, will bring the final decision.

And as in group 2 for Greece, the gate for Estonia is widely open in group 3.

Like Greece they have a clear record after three matches, and the advantage from the first leg against Belgium even stands at seven goals.

So the way for top star Mait Patrail from German side Hannover-Burgdorf and his teammates is clearly marked.

In the qualification for the EHF EURO 2012 Estonia were even close to qualify for the final tournament.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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