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14.01.2015, 16:00
Men’s World Championship 2015 throws off in Qatar
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PREVIEW: The European quartet of France, Spain, Croatia and Denmark is named by many as the tournament’s hottest favourites
 

Men’s World Championship 2015 throws off in Qatar

Even before the 24th Men’s World Championship starts in Qatar on Thursday, 15 January with the opening match between the hosts and Brazil, European teams have made their mark on the final tournament.

With 15 teams from Europe being among the 24 participants, their number is as high as never before.

World champions Spain, European champions France as well as Denmark and Croatia as second and fourth placed teams at the Men’s EHF EURO 2014 were directly qualified.

Another nine joined the pack following the play-off matches in June last year, while Germany and Iceland were given wild cards by the International Handball Federation.

These 15 teams together with the nine participants from Asia, Africa and Pan-America have been seeded in four groups of six teams each.

In Group A Spain, Slovenia and Belarus face Brazil, Qatar and Chile; in Group B Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and FYR Macedonia meet Iran and Tunisia.

In Group C France, Iceland, Czech Republic and Sweden are challenged by Algeria and Egypt, while Germany, Denmark, Poland and Russia have been drawn alongside Saudi-Arabia and Argentina to Group D.

The first four teams of each group qualify for the Last 16. There the first ranked team of Group A plays the fourth ranked side of Group B, Group A’s no.2 meets Group B’s no.3 and vice versa.

The same system is applied for Groups C and D before the tournament moves to the quarter-finals.

Stars go, stars miss out

The quartet of France, Denmark, Spain and Croatia is named by many as the hottest favourites for the title, with Poland given the chance by some to break into their phalanx.

France have named almost exactly the same squad that took gold at the Men’s EHF EURO 2014, however they have to replace injured right wing Luc Abalo.

For Spain head coach Manolo Cadenas made four changes compared to the team that triumphed at the World Championship 2013. Spain biggest drawback arguably might be the absence of injured goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik.

Croatia’s head coach Slavko Goluza has gathered his squad around 2013 World Handball Player Domagoj Duvnjak and experienced players such as Igor Vori, Ivan Cupic and Marko Kopljar.

The World Championship will mark the major tournament premiere for Icelandic Gudmundur Gudmundsson as Denmark’s head coach.

The 54-year-old took over from Ulrik Wilbek, who is now the Danish Handball Federation’s sports director, in summer 2014.

He takes 17 players with him to Qatar including stars such as Mikkel Hansen, Hans Lindberg and Niklas Landin and Anders Eggert.

The group phase will be played until 24 January, the Last 16 takes place on 25/26 January, the quarter-finals all on 28 January, the semi-finals on 30 January, before the tournament concluded with the bronze medal match and the final on 1 February 2015.


TEXT: EHF / ts
 
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