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The race is on for the last three spots

EHF / Björn Pazen

The last three matches of the first qualification stage for the IHF Men’s World Championship 2023 in Poland and Sweden will decide the last three spots – this is the outcome of Saturday’s three matches in two groups. 

In group 1, Belgium did their job properly and finally ended Kosovo’s hopes with a clear win. Having five points to their name, the Belgians overtook Turkey (four points), before the Turks’ final game on Sunday against group winners Greece. Even a draw will not be enough for Turkey, as they had lost the direct encounter against Belgium on aggregate.  

In group 4, played as a tournament in Törshavn, Faroe Islands, all four teams still have hopes of proceeding.

After Luxembourg and Italy had won their matches on the opening day, only Luxembourg took an additional point – topping the table by three points, ahead of Italy and hosts the Faroe Islands (both on two) and Latvia (one point). On Sunday, Luxembourg face Italy and the Faroe Islands clash with Latvia. 

GROUP 1 
Belgium vs Kosovo 33:29 (18:12) 

  • after the draw in the first leg in Kosovo, Belgium were dominant on home ground despite a weak period in the middle of the second half – and fully recovered from their 18-goal defeat to Greece on Thursday 
  • Kosovo arrived full of hope after beating the Turks, but were behind right from the start, as Belgium were ahead 10:5 after 18 minutes
  • at 21:13 the hosts seemed to be on the winners’ way, but the Kosovo side started their next edition of their famous comebacks, like in their close defeats against Greece in the round 3 and 4 – and reduced the gap to 25:26 with 10 minutes to play 
  • however, Belgium withstood the Kosovo comeback – and were confirmed winners, when Kevin Siraut made it 31:26 three minutes before the end – and now have to wait for the result from Turkey 
  • top scorers were Serge Sporen (Belgium) and Drenit Tahirukaj (Kosovo) by eight goals each 

Final match of group 1: 

Turkey vs Greece
Sunday 16 January, 12:00 CET 

GROUP 4 
Latvia vs Luxembourg 30:30 (18:15) 

  • Latvia showed a completely different face compared to their sensational 23:36 defeat on Friday against Italy – and even could have beaten Luxembourg 
  • the whole match went up and down, with changing leads, though the Latvians were ahead for a much longer time, but not cast off their opponents 
  • after a three-goal deficit at the break, Luxembourg had their strongest period right at the start of the second half, when they managed to pull ahead to 24:21 
  • Latvia were shaken, but did not fall – and even seemed to be on the path to victory being ahead 29:26 with three minutes left 
  • a double strike by top scorer Tommy Wirtz (nine goals in total) and Martin Müller secured the lucky draw for Luxembourg, now on three points after beating the Faroe Islands on Friday 

Italy vs Faroe Islands 26:27 (13:11) 

  • the first half (and almost the whole match) was equal, with both sides each once being in lead by two goals, the rest was level or a one-goal advance. 
  • the 13:12 right after the break was Italy’s last lead until minute 50, but gradually the Faroe Islands took more and more control of the match. 
  • but the visitors never gave up, levelled the result again at 22:22 – and even took the lead several times 
  • the Faroe Islands cheated the gallows, but finally it took until the final buzzer to confirm the victory – Teis Horn Rasmussen netted for 27:26, and Italian Davide Bulzamini missed the last chance

Remaining matches in Torshavn: 

Italy vs Luxembourg 

Sunday 16 January, 16:30 CET  

Faroe Islands vs Latvia 

Sunday 16 January, 19:00 CET 

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