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31.10.2014, 11:02
Time for Kosovo and Georgia to write handball history
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ROUND PREVIEW: While Pristina hosts Kosovo's first home game, Georgia can record their first EHF EURO qualification win in seven years when the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification throws off on Saturday
 

Time for Kosovo and Georgia to write handball history

The road to the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia started with home victories for Greece (against Cyprus), Estonia (against Georgia) and Romania (against Kosovo) this week.

As the same teams will again face this weekend in the respective return leg, the chance is there for the hosts to take revenge on the court.

Only the winners of the three qualification groups proceed to the play-offs against the three lowest ranked teams of the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification at which they will play for three spots in the second phase of this EHF EURO 2018 Qualification.

Group A: Cyprus vs. Greece / Sunday, 19:00 hrs. at Nicosia

Cyprus put up a brave fight against their neighbours on Thursday, losing the first leg only 25:27.

Hence an open game can be expected as Cyprus have the home advantage on their side. Their last home victory in an EHF EURO qualification, however, dates back quite a while when they beat Luxembourg 27:21 in June 2012.

In the first qualification phase for the EHF EURO 2016 they beat Luxembourg again (17:16), but it happened when playing in Luxembourg.

Nevertheless Greece are still the favourites in this group (and in the match), but they have to be aware of Cyprus’ top scorer Julios Argyrou, who netted eight times on Thursday.

Group B: Georgia vs. Estonia / Sunday, 19:00 hrs. at Tbilisi

Can Georgia write a small chapter of handball history on Sunday?

Since 2007 they have not won a match in EHF EURO qualifications, but their opponents, Estonia, seems to be beatable especially as they have to replace their top star Mait Patrail who is out with a shoulder injury.

On Wednesday Estonia were on the edge of defeat against Georgia on home court in Tallin, but eventually they scraped away with a close 28:26 win.

And Georgia, who were led by their top strikers Vladimir Rusia and Revaz Chanturia in the first leg, proved their home strength in the European qualification for the World Championship 2015, when they won their home matches against Finland, Turkey and Lithuania.

Hence history might be written in Tbilisi.

Group C: Kosovo vs. Romania / Saturday, 18:00 hrs. in Pristina

Despite the 24:36 defeat in the first official international match in the history of Kosovo on Wednesday at Romania, a whole country is excited about their handball team.

A full hall is expected on Saturday, when Romania will be the opponents in the first official home match for Kosovo’s senior national team.

Even through Romania are the favourites and Kosovo the underdogs, Romania will be aware of the atmosphere that is expected in Pristina.

In the first leg Kosovo kept the match open minute the 45th minutes when they eventually ran out of steam – but maybe the home crowd’s support can make up for this on Saturday.


TEXT: EHF / ts
 
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