Estonia enter crucial qualifiers without top star Patrail
Estonia can qualify for the main qualification phase to an EHF EURO event for the first time since 2010/11 when they are up against Turkey on Wednesday in the first phase of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification.
Being one point above the Turks, the final verdict of Group B could be clear before their re-match on Sunday.
In Group C, Luxembourg and Italy are facing each other in the first out of two all-or-nothing matches for the top spot.
Only the respective winners of Groups A, B and C qualify for the second, the main, qualification phase of the EHF EURO 2020. For the remaining six teams there is a second chance in the European Trophy played this summer.
For both matches the EHF Live Ticker at ticker.ehf.eu is available.
Estonia vs Turkey, Wednesday 11 November, 19:30 local time
Estonia find themselves in a familiar position which doesn‘t bring back good memories. Being top of the table in Group B, one point ahead of the Turks, one victory in their two encounters will secure their ticket to the second phase of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification.
The situation was similar in June 2011 in a qualifier against FYR Macedonia en route to the EHF EURO 2012. A win back then would have even secured their participation at the final tournament, but FYR Macedonia turned things around and eventually qualified for the competition.
Now for the first time since, Estonia can at least qualify for the second phase of the EHF EURO Qualification.
But the Baltic nation's handball team has suffered a huge blow before the first match against Turkey on Wednesday as their top star, Mait Patrail from the German Bundesliga club TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, is absent through injury.
Turkey are a point behind Estonia leading up to the last two matches, after a historic draw against Kosovo 24:24 which was Kosovo‘s first point in an official national team match.
That puts Turkey with their back against the wall as a defeat will crush their dreams even before the re-match on home ground on Sunday.
Luxembourg vs Italy, Wednesday 11 November, 19:30 local time
After winning their first two games against Georgia, Luxembourg and Italy are square on points leading up to their first of two all-or-nothing encounter for the ticket through from Group C.
Luxembourg had no real resistance from Georgia, winning both games convincingly 31:24 and 35:29. Led by Max Kohl with 13 goals, Luxembourg is keen to be in the way of Italy.
After a seven goal win in the first match against Georgia, 26:19, Italy had to get their hands dirty in the second leg, snapping a three goal victory 28:25. Dean Turkovic was unstoppable and netted 17 goals in both games.
If Luxembourg will be successful in closing him down, things could turn their way and put them in the driver’s seat with all the pressure on the home team in the final match in Siracusa on Sunday.
TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ts