20 teams vying for Spain as play-offs begin
The last European places at the Women’s World Championship 2021 are set to be decided over the coming week, as the qualification play-offs see 20 teams vying for 10 tickets to contest the global event in Spain in December.
The play-offs see a series of two-leg ties, starting on Friday, with the aggregate winners in each pair qualifying. All matches will be streamed live on EHFTV.
Europe is the only continent with teams confirmed for Spain 2021 so far, with Spain automatically qualified as hosts, Netherlands as current world champions, and the four EHF EURO 2020 semi-finalists — Norway, France, Croatia and Denmark — booking their places in December.
- one double-header will take place over the weekend — Hungary vs Italy — with the first leg on Friday and the second on Sunday, both in Erd. All other ties will see the first leg played on either Saturday or Sunday and the reverse fixture on Tuesday or Wednesday
- Belarus, Slovakia and Italy are all fighting to return to the World Championship after an absence of at least 20 years. Slovakia last played the event in 1995, Belarus in 1999 and Italy — on their one and only participation, as hosts — in 2001
- Russia are the highest ranked side from the last World Championship taking part in the play-offs. They clinched the bronze medal against Norway in Japan in 2019 and are the record World Championship title holders with four trophies won
- Romania are the only team worldwide to have qualified for every World Championship, which began in 1957 and will see its 25th edition played in Spain this December
- two members of the EHF EURO 2020 All-star Team will be on court during the play-offs — Russia’s Vladlena Bobrovnikova (left back) and Montenegro captain Jovanka Radicevic (right wing)
Aiming for World Championship debut
Of the 20 teams contesting the play-offs, three have never reached the World Championship before: Turkey, Portugal and Switzerland.
Turkey will face a tough task against Olympic champions and World Championship 2019 bronze medallists Russia, Portugal are set to meet a Germany side reeling from a number of losses due to Covid-19 quarantine after a domestic match, and Switzerland will play Czech Republic.
Portugal and Switzerland have the chance to make it a very special year for their countries, following the men’s teams’ returns to the World Championship in January after lengthy absences — Portugal following an 18-year gap and Switzerland after 26 years.
Women’s World Championship 2021 play-offs, first leg:
Friday 16 April
Saturday 17 April
Ukraine vs Sweden 16:00 CEST - live on EHFTV
Romania vs North Macedonia 17:00 CEST - live on EHFTV
Slovenia vs Iceland 17:30 CEST - live on EHFTV
Slovakia vs Serbia 18:00 CEST - live on EHFTV
Czech Republic vs Switzerland 20:10 CEST - live on EHFTV
Portugal vs Germany 21:30 CEST - live on EHFTV
Sunday 18 April
Italy vs Hungary 13:00 CEST (second leg) - live on EHFTV