Eight teams embark on road to Poland-Sweden 2023
The opening match of the Men’s IHF World Championship 2023 might still be more than 14 months away, the journey to Poland and Sweden starts this week with phase 1 of the European qualification.
A total of 16 European teams that failed to make it to the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 will vie for eight places in the next phase of the qualification. They have been divided into four groups of four teams, with the top two of each group advancing.
The teams in group 1 play a full competition with home and away matches, beginning with round 1 on Wednesday and round 2 on Sunday.
The other three groups have opted for a tournament format at one venue: group 2 takes place in Finland from Friday through Sunday; groups 3 and 4 will be played in Romania and Faroe Islands, respectively, in January 2022.
The 32-team World Championship 2023 will be played across nine venues in Poland and Sweden on 11-29 January 2023. Three European nations – the two co-hosts and defending world champions Denmark – have already been guaranteed of a place at the final tournament.
- Turkey, Belgium and Greece also met in WCh 2019 qualification; Belgium won both home games and away in Greece, and drew in Turkey
- Turkey defeated Estonia and Belgium in WCh 2021 qualification before the play-off against Russia in June 2020 was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic
- Yérime Sylla is returning for his third stint as Belgium head coach after Arnaud Calbry stepped down this month to fully focus on his job at French club team Dunkerque
- Kosovo have vastly improved in recent years, with a 23:23 draw with Poland in an EHF EURO 2020 qualifier among their most remarkable results
- the remaining four rounds (schedule) will be played between 5 and 16 January 2022
(all matches in Vantaa, Finland)
- hosts Finland have qualified for a WCh once before – more than 60 years ago, in 1958
- one of Finland’s most impressive results in recent times was their 31:27 away win in Austria in an EHF EURO 2018 Qualifier
- Estonia, seeking their first berth at a major tournament, upset Bosnia-Herzegovina 29:25 in WCh 2019 qualification
- Georgia are coming off a run to the title at the IHF/EHF Challenge Trophy 2021 in June, when they defeated the likes of Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Moldova
- Great Britain are looking for their maiden win in a WCh qualification match; their only appearance at a major tournament came at the 2012 London Olympics
- Romania, Israel, Cyprus, and Moldova will play their tournament in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, on 7-9 January 2022
- Latvia, Italy, Luxembourg, and Faroe Islands will play their tournament in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, on 14-16 January 2022