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15.10.2018, 14:45
This is what changed since EHF EURO 2018
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THE LOOK AHEAD: Plenty has happened in the nine months since Spain claimed EHF EURO glory in Zagreb, with coaching changes and some big player news to take notice of before the EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers begin on 24 October
 

This is what changed since EHF EURO 2018

On 24 October, 32 teams embark on a special qualification campaign, competing for the 20 remaining places at EHF EURO 2020 in the very first edition with 24 teams – champions Spain and hosts Sweden, Austria and Norway do not need to qualify.

All matches from this qualification campaign will be streamed live on ehfTV.com, which means fans can enjoy everything this journey has to offer - from the Balkan derby between Croatia and Serbia, to Olympic champions Denmark taking on Emerging Nations champions Faroe Islands.

Before looking forward to six rounds of fascinating national team action, it is worth looking back at the nine months since Spain defeated Sweden in January’s EHF EURO 2018 final and seeing how the landscape of international handball has changed.

Changes at the top

  • Iceland replaced coach Geir Sveinsson with Gudmundur Gudmundsson in February. This is Gudmundsson’s third time as Iceland coach, after spells in 2001-04 and 2008-2012. Since 2012, the 57-year-old led Denmark to Olympic gold in 2016 and coached Bahrain for less than a year.
  • Jovica Cvetkovic lost his job as Serbia coach a month after EHF EURO 2018 and was replaced by 47-year-old Nenad Perunicic, a star player for Yugoslavia in the 90s and early 2000s. Perunicic will be assisted by former teammate Nedeljko Jovanovic.
  • Ljubomir Vranjes lost his job as Veszprém coach after an underwhelming start to the VELUX EHF Champions League this seson and with it his role as Hungary coach. A replacement has yet to be confirmed.
  • Croatia’s Lino Červar held on to his job and added a new club gig, taking over at HC PPD Zagreb.
  • FYR Macedonia coach Raul Gonzalez left Vardar over the summer to take charge of Paris Saint-Germain

#Kimback part 2

  • Kim Ekdahl Du Rietz shocked the handball world with his return to action with Rhein-Neckar Löwen just months after retiring. Now a PSG player, the 29-year-old has also returned to the Swedish national team for the first time in four years.
  • Ekdahl Du Rietz’s comeback will be Sweden’s opening EHF EURO Cup match against Spain, a repeat of January’s final. The EHF EURO Cup is a brand new competition, featuring the aforementioned teams as well as Austria and Norway, all of whom have their place in EHF EURO 2020 guaranteed.
  • One of the biggest names to retire after featuring in Croatia was the host nation’s line player Igor Vori. The 38-year-old brought an end to his illustrious career at the end of last season.
  • If Poland are to bounce back from missing EHF EURO 2018 and qualify for the 2020 event, they will need to do so without the help of legendary goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal. The former Kielce shotstopper retired from the sport this summer.

All-stars on the move

  • Ondrej Zdrahala caught everyone by surprise with his 56-goal haul in January, inspiring Czech Republic to a sixth-place finish. Plying his trade in the relative obscurity of Otmar St. Gallen in Switzerland at the time, his exploits earned him a contract with Polish side Orlen Wisla Plock, where he is enjoying his first season of Champions League action in 12 years.
  • All-star left wing Manuel Strlek moved from Kielce to Veszprém in the summer, while Jesper Nielsen swapped PSG for Rhein-Neckar Löwen.
  • Vincent Gerard, voted the best goalkeeper of the tournament, continued his splendid form throughout the rest of the season and helped Montpellier win the VELUX EHF Champions League title in June.

 


TEXT: Chris O'Reilly / ts
 
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