World Championship

Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain grab final World Championship places

Adrian Costeiu / cor

Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain grab final World Championship places

There were no surprises on the last day of the Women’s World Championship play-offs, as all four favourites secured their berths for the final tournament in Japan.

Sweden put 45 goals past Slovakia in a rout, Serbia never had any trouble against Poland, despite the 30:27 loss, while Slovenia picked up where they left off against North Macedonia to secure their third World Championship berth in a row.

Therefore, Europe will send 13 teams to Japan, with Hungary, Norway, Denmark, Montenegro, Germany, Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain joining the already qualified France, Russia, Netherlands and Romania.

Slovakia vs Sweden 24:45 (10:25)
First leg result: 18:33, Aggregate score: 42:78

There cannot be much to say about a double-header which presented a 36-goal difference between the two sides, as Sweden romped to a 45:24 win in the second leg, after already cruising past Slovakia in the first leg, 33:18.

The young Swedish side never looked in doubt en route to a commanding win, as they scored 25 goals in the first half, rendering the Slovakian defence helpless. 25-year old left back Mikaela Mässing was Sweden’s top scorer with nine goals, while Reka Bizikova proved to be the only Slovakian player that had a good outing on Thursday, scoring also nine.

Poland vs Serbia 30:27 (12:14)

First leg result: 19:33, Aggregate score: 49:60

It was too little, too late for Poland, who only mustered one good half out of the four played against a depleted Serbian side. The disappointing 33:19 defeat from the first game meant that Poland had a mountain to climb and the nerves were already there from the start, as Serbia also took the lead in the second leg of the game.

Poland turned the game around, after a very good second half, thanks to great performances from left back Kinga Achruk, who scored seven times, and left wing Mariola Wiertelak, with six goals.

Down 14:12 at the break, the Polish side roared back to claim a 30:27 win, but it was not nearly enough. With an aggregate win of 11, Serbia secured their place in the World Championship.

Slovenia vs North Macedonia 38:27 (20:14)
First leg result: 33:30, Aggregate score: 71:57

While the 33:30 win from the first leg may have looked like it was enough, a three-goal advantage can quickly evaporate and Slovenia never looked off guard on home court.

Taking an early lead was a must and they duly delivered, jumping 20:14 ahead at the break to practically secure qualification.

A 4:0 run to establish a ten-goal gap, 26:16, in the second half only confirmed the Slovenian domination, as the hosts secured an impressive 38:27 win to confirm their superiority. While backs Ana Gros and Tjasa Stanko combined for nine goals, it was left wing Tamara Mavsar who led the Slovenian charge, with eight.

Iceland vs Spain 32:31 (13:15)
First leg result: 26:35, Aggregate score: 58:66

Riding a nine-goal lead from the first game, Spain could tackle the second leg with a more relaxed perspective, but it certainly looked like they were focused from the start, taking an early 7:5 lead.

A composed Spanish side never forced their way, but still took a 15:13 lead at the break, leaving Iceland in need of a miracle to progress. It was not the case, with Spain firmly in control of their destiny.

Iceland ultimately won, 32:31, but thanks to an aggregate win of 66:58, Spain clinched their ticket to Japan.


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