PREVIEW: Rounds 3 and 4 of the qualification to the final tournament in France next year are played between 6 and 10 January
World Championship Qualificaton kicks off European handball year 2016
The new year has merely started and it is already crunch time for the teams vying to stay in the race for the Men's World Championship 2017 in France.
After Portugal qualified for the play-offs in June already back in autumn 2015, there are 18 teams left in five groups - and only the first one qualifies for the next qualification phase.
In the coming days Rounds 3 and 4 will be played (the two final rounds take place just a week later), and for all matches the EHF live ticker will be available.
The situation is tight in Group 1 with Lithuania and Bosnia-Herzegovina on three points and Slovakia on two. The Bosnian team arguably has the easier games ahead with a double-header against Kosovo, while Lithuania play Slovakia first at home on 7 January then away on 9 January.
In Group 2 Austria can make a huge step towards the play-offs if they win their double-header against Italy, while Romania, who lost 24:27 to Austria in Round 1, have to beat Finland twice to stay in the race.
Latvia, who have won their first two games, have very good chances to become one the teams to qualify as they face Cyprus twice in Rounds 3 and 4 in Group 3. Greece and Ukraine fight to keep their hopes for a successful qualification alive.
Group 5 and 6 consist of three teams only. In Group 5 Czech Republic won both games against Belgium in the first two rounds and can now wait and see what the table will look life after Belgium have played Turkey twice.
The same holds true for Netherlands, who beat Luxembourg twice in autumn last year. The former now play Switzerland on 6 and 9 January, then Switzerland play Netherlands on 13 and 17 January.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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