NEWS REPORT: Pairing for final European qualification stage before the World Championship 2015 in Qatar were drawn on Sunday before the Men's EHF EURO 2014 Final
Neighbour duels form highlights of World Championship Play-offs
For many teams the travel will be minimal when the World Championship Play-offs will throw off at the beginning of June 2014.
The nine pairings were drawn on Sunday just hours before the final day of the EHF EURO 2014 and it is some thrilling neighbour duels that certainly form the highlights of the double-headers.
Hungary vs Slovenia was the first match-up that was drawn, shortly followed afterwards by Poland vs Germany and Greece vs FYR Macedonia.
"It's two times do-or-die, nothing else," was the immediate reaction of Bob Hanning, Vice Presiden of the German Handball Federation.
Marek Goralczyk, Secretary General of the Polish Handball Federation said: "It is a shame that one big handball nation will not take part at the World Championship. Nobody wanted to face Germany, now we have to. It will specially be interesting, as we have a German coach (Michael Biegler)."
The draw was conducted by EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer, EHF Competitions Commission Chairman Leopold Kalin and IHF Vice President Miguel Roca.
The matches will be played 7/8 June 2014 and 14/15 June 2014.
The following pairings have been drawn:
Hungary vs Slovenia
Romania vs Sweden
Poland vs Germany
Greece vs FYR Macedonia
Serbia vs Czech Republic
Russia vs Lithuania
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Iceland
Austria vs Norway
Montenegro vs Belarus
"Norway are one of the most difficult opponents we could get," said Gerhard Hofbauer, President of the Austrian Handball Federation. However, after the success EHF EURO we played, we enter this encounter with self-confidence and are optimistic regarding our chances."
Norway's coach Robert Hedin is also reasonably optimistic: "It could have been worse. The Austrians have improved a lot lately, but still there were only good teams among our possible opponents, I think. It is an obvious advantage that we finish at home."
Satisfaction reigned in the Icelandic camp after having been drawn against Bosnia and Herzegovina. "Among the teams we could have got, this was not the worst opponent," said head coach Aron Kristjansson.
"What is most important to me is that we get the second leg at home, as the away match may be quite tough.”
Sweden's coach Staffan Olsson called it a 'medium draw' for his team. "There were easier opponents among our nine potential opponents, but it could also have been worse, I guess.
“We will probably get under a lot of pressure in our first game in Romania, so it is very important to us that we have the last match at home," he said.
Radek Bendl, General Secretary Czech Handball Federation: Serbia were definitely not on our wishing list. The only positive thing is that we have the second leg at home and can combine it with the last qualification match of our women’s team for the 2014 EURO.
The nine play-off double headers decide the last nine qualification places for European teams at the World Championship 2015 in Qatar.
Spain as defending champions as well as Denmark, France and Croatia as the three best ranked teams from the Men's EHF EURO 2014 are already qualified.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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