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31.05.2016, 15:50
Croatia, Hungary and Poland set to qualify for EHF EURO 2016
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GROUP 4-7 PREVIEW: Three teams are in a strong position to secure their berth at the final tournament in Sweden on Wednesday
 

Croatia, Hungary and Poland set to qualify for EHF EURO 2016

Croatia, Hungary and Poland can all qualify for the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden when they take to the court in away matches on Wednesday in Round 5 of the qualification phase.

If results in other group matches go their way, Denmark in Group 6 and Germany in Group 7 can also already qualify. 

Croatia's away match at Slovenia will be streamed live on ehfTV, and fans can follow all matches also with the EHF live ticker.

Group 4: Slovenia vs Croatia, 18:00 local time in Celje (live on ehfTV)

Group 4 is yet another in which qualification for the top two teams is not yet certain, but is very likely considering their comfortable tally.

Croatia is one of those teams, currently with seven points, and are confident they will secure their place at the final tournament when they play away.

“We need to play seriously from the beginning. A point from the match against Slovenia is enough for us, but we need to be careful because Slovenia have not given up yet. A win against us could ensure them the third best place in all groups,” says head coach Goran Mrđen.

Slovenia are on four points and are in with a good chance of being the best third-ranked team, which gives them extra motivation to do everything in their power to stop Croatia.

Group 5: Slovakia vs Hungary 18:00 local time in Michalovce

The last time Slovakia defeated Hungary was in 1996, also in the EHF EURO Qualification phase – and also, coincidentally enough, playing in Group 5.

When the teams met in Round 1 of this EHF EURO Qualification campaign, it ended with a 13-goal win for Hungary at 32:19.

The small consolation for Slovakia to draw on there is that that was an away match, and on Wednesday they play at home – and Ernö Kelecsényi, Vice President of the Slovakian Handball Federation, is confident.

“Our level of handball cannot be compared to Hungary. But I believe we will witness a very competitive game. Slovakia can still go through as the best third-ranked team. That is a big motivation. You might play Hungary ten times, and beat them only once. Now it’s the time to do so.”

Hungary are also confident however, electing to leave Anita Görbicz off their team list, despite the continued absence due to injury of Zsuzsanna Tomori, Bernadett Bognar-Bodi and Gabriella Toth.

Group 5: Finland vs Poland 18:30 local time in Vantaa

Poland sit alongside Hungary at the top of the group table, on six points from three wins apiece – each having beaten the other in their away match.

Hungary’s win in Poland was bigger, as they claimed a 27:24 victory, while Poland won 26:25 in Erd.

Both now head assuredly toward Sweden, with the chance of a Finnish victory of this match fairly slim considering Poland won the first encounter 29:12.

Poland will book their place at the final tournament if they take the two points here, as will Hungary if they defeat Slovakia.

The game is Poland coach Kim Rasmussen’s last away match with the team, ahead of his final game at the helm in Plock when they play Slovakia in Round 6.

“It will be very sad moment for me to say goodbye to the girls and to all people who supported me in those six years. I hope that people in Poland and all those incredible fans will remember me as a coach who brought some new ideas to Polish handball and I am very sorry that this beautiful time and sports adventure comes to an end with Poland,” he said.

Group 6: Turkey vs Denmark 20:00 local time in Rize

Group 6 is one of the only two groups – the other being Group 7 – in which a team has already secured their place in Sweden.

Russia have eight points from four straight wins, after defeating Turkey and Portugal once, and making up for their World Championship 2015 elimination at the hands of Denmark with two victories against the Scandinavian team.

Denmark are therefore only on four points, but are still ahead of Turkey and Portugal – not quite comfortably however.

Both Turkey and Portugal have two points, which means if Denmark lose to Turkey on Wednesday they will be in trouble.

They are fortunate then, that they are most likely to win as they defeated Turkey by nine goals in their home fixture, at 28:19. If they win, they will have to wait until Thursday's match between Portugal and Russia. In case of a Russian win, Denmark qualify for the EHF EURO 2016.

Turkey’s main weapon is Yasemin Sahin, who has scored 17 goals in two games in the qualification phase, but missed their last two matches. Whether she will be on court against Denmark on Wednesday is unclear.

Group 7: Switzerland vs Germany 19:00 local time in St Gallen

Group 7’s situation is exactly the same as Group 6: France are through to Sweden with eight points from four wins, Germany are on four points, and the bottom two teams – in this case Iceland and Switzerland are each on two.

This match therefore has exactly the same stakes as Turkey vs Denmark, as Germany could end up fighting for second if they are not careful.

Coincidentally, the score from Germany and Switzerland’s first encounter was also 28:19 – the same as Turkey and Denmark’s.

It would therefore seem probable that Germany will claim their third set of two points on Wednesday. Should France then win against Iceland, this would already confirm Germany's participation at the EHF EURO 2016.

Group 7: Iceland vs France 19:30 local time in Reykjavik

France defeated Iceland 27:17 in in Round 1, making them the strong favourites to win by a decent margin again.

However, Iceland have shown they are capable of playing their best at home, as they lost by a less decisive five goals at 17:22 against Germany.

They also beat Switzerland at home after losing by just one goal in their first encounter.

Still, France are the group leaders and have shown they deserve to be there, so a win for Iceland here is a big ask.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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