ROUND PREVIEW: Rounds 5 and 6 in the Qualification Europe will decide the five teams that advance to the next stage and can therefore keep their hope to be part of the World Championship 2015
Crunch time for World Championship Qualification
The second week of January has plenty to offer for Europe's handball fans. While 16 teams are getting ready for the EHF EURO 2014, another 20 are currently fighting to keep their hopes alive to be a part of the World Championship 2015.
Rounds 5 and 6 of World Championship Qualification Europe, the final two rounds of this phase, are being played from 8 to 12 January. All matches can be followed with the EHF live ticker.
Only the group winners of the five groups advance to the next stage, the European play-offs, where they will meet 12 EHF EURO 2014 participants plus Germany to eventually decide nine European participants for the World Championship in Qatar.
In Group 1 Lithuania have the best chances to advance. They only need one more point from their match against Georgia on 8 January and they are through. In the first match between these two teams Lithuania won 23:17.
Romania and Slovakia are the two teams left with chances in Group 2. Romania are unbeaten so far and top the group with the maximum of eight points, Slovakia have won three matches.
As both team face each other in Round 6 on 11 January in Sala (Slovakia), it is likely that the decision will postponed until then. Romania won the first encounter 32:24.
In Round 5 Romania meet Italy on home court while Slovakia travel to Cyprus.
Ukraine (seven points) and Slovenia (six points) are battling for the top spot in Group 3. Like in Group 2 these two teams meet each other in Round 6 in Velenje, Slovenia.
In the first leg Ukraine beat Slovenia 32:28. In Round 5 Ukraine face Luxembourg and Slovenia play away against Switzerland.
Nothing has been decided in Group 4 in which all four teams, Israel, Netherlands, Belgium and Greece, have four points on their accounts.
The encounters for Round 5 are Greece vs Netherlands and Israel vs. Belgium.
Quite to the contrary, unbeaten Bosnia and Herzegovina only need one more point in Group 5 to secure their spot in the play-offs, which seems to be a managable task as they face winless Estonia on home court on 8 January.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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