Final stop before Serbia
After only one home team (Germany) won their first leg match of the European play-offs for the women’s World Championship in Serbia (7-22 December) some teams, which had been supposed favourites are under pressure in the decisive rematches this weekend.
After the draw against Croatia, France have their backs against the wall in their away match in Umag. Since 1997 France (runners-up of the World Championships 2009 and 2011) have never missed any world tournament.
Croatia were boosted by the comeback of Andrea Penezic – and hope to jump over this high hurdle at the Adriatic sea.
2010 EHF EURO silver medallist Sweden lost their first leg match on home court against the clearly improved Polish team and need to now step up their game to book their ticket to Serbia.
Some teams have all but secured their place at the World Championship after the first leg: Spain clearly won at FYR Macedonia, Germany beat the Ukraine by eight goals – while Czech Republic (29:17 at Iceland) and Denmark (42:24 in Turkey) took the clearest victories in the first leg.
Netherlands were close to causing a major upset over four time world champions Russia, but eventually lost at home by one goal. If the Dutch win in Rostov on Sunday by at least two goals, Russia would miss their first ever World Championship in exactly 40 years (1973).
The second leg matches of the World Championship qualification play-offs:
Denmark vs. Turkey - 8. June, 20:15 hrs. local time in Arhus
First leg: 42:24
Czech Republic vs. Iceland - 8 June, 18:00 hrs. local time in Most
First leg: 29:17
Spain vs. FYR Macedonia - 7 June, 19:00 hrs. local time in Soria
First leg: 27:21
Russia vs. Netherlands - 9 June, 17:00 hrs. local time in Rostov-Don
First leg: 27:26
Romania vs. Slovakia - 8 June, 18:00 hrs. local time in Oradea
First leg: 23:21
Ukraine vs. Germany - 9 June, 19:00 hrs. local time in Kiev
First leg: 16:24
Poland vs. Sweden - 8 June, 17:00 hrs. local time in Elblag
First leg: 26:23
Croatia vs. France 9 June, 18:30 hrs. local time in Umag
First leg: 18:18
Host Serbia, defending world champions Norway, EHF EURO champion Montenegro and EHF EURO bronze medallist Hungary have already qualified directly for the event.
The draw for the preliminary round groups, played in Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad and Zrenjanin, will be conducted on Saturday 15 June at 11:30 hrs. local time in the City Hall of Belgrade.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor