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03.01.2017, 11:57
Estonia and Luxembourg enter the road to the biggest EURO
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PREVIEW: Two double-headers of qualification phase 1 to be carried out this week
 

Estonia and Luxembourg enter the road to the biggest EURO

In January 2020, the biggest Men’s EHF EURO event will throw-off in Norway, Sweden and Austria - and as for the first time 24 nations will clinch their berth for this event, the qualification had to start as early as never before.

After the start in November, now the qualification continues, with Luxembourg and Estonia about to have their first two matches on their way to 2020 this week.

Both sides had failed to qualify for the final qualification stage for the EURO 2018 in Croatia, so their long-term goal is the qualification for Austria, Sweden and Norway two years later.

In total, nine nations in three groups will battle out the first three tickets for the next qualification stage, as only the group winners proceed. Groups B and C are played in home and away matches, while Group A will be decided in a tournament in Faroe Islands from 13 to 15 January 2017.

The second possibility to reach the second phase of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification is the European IHF Trophy, which will be played in June 2017. The six teams that do not qualify from the first phase will join this tournament, for which nine other nations have also registered.

Group B:
Kosovo vs. Estonia
Wednesday, 19:30 hrs local time in Gjakove

Estonia vs. Kosovo
Sunday, 19:30 hrs local time in Polva

After winning their historic first point in any official EHF competition with the 24:24 against Turkey in November, Kosovo are highly motivated to be the stumble stone for another favourite team again in their premiere encounters with Estonia. But due to having more and more players in European top leagues such as Germany, the Estonians are supposed to leave the underdogs behind.

After two matches, Turkey top the group with three points and will face Estonia in a double-header in the next week.

“We missed the qualification for the EURO in 2012 quite closely, so now we want to make the first step on the way to the 2020 final tournament,” says Estonian top star Mait Patrail, who expects the final duel at Turkey as the significant match for proceeding to the second qualification stage.

Group C:
Georgia vs. Luxembourg
Wednesday, 18:00 hrs local times in Tbilisi

Luxembourg vs. Georgia
Saturday, 18:00 hrs local times in Luxemburg

After two more or less surprising defeats against Italy in the first two qualification matches, Georgia are with their backs against the walls already prior to the double-header against Luxembourg.

18 months ago, both sides had already duelled in the first qualification stage for the EHF EURO 2018. While the Georgians won their home match closely 17:16, Luxembourg took the direct encounter by a 29:20 victory to finally proceed to the play-offs, when they were defeated by Finland.

In their final test prior to this double-header, Luxembourg gained confidence by beating Greece 22:19 in a friendly match last week. The final decision, which team will book their straight ticket for the final qualification stage will be taken next week in the double-header Luxembourg vs Italy.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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