The IHF Women’s Handball World Championship 2017 qualification playoffs are complete, so the European places are taken at the big event played in December in Germany. 9 teams qualified for the world championship from the European qualification playoff duels, so 20 participants are already known. Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Spain, Serbia, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Russia and Slovenia have fought their way to Germany. The participants of the American continent will be defined in the Pan American Handball Championship between 18 and 25 June in Buenos Aires.
Serbia – Italy 34-16 (14-4)
Best scorers for Serbia: J. Stoiljkovic 5, M. Obradovic 4, seven players with 3 goals
Best scorers for Italy: L. Rotondo 6, M. Crosta 2, B. Del Balzo 2, I. Fanton 2
The Serbians have already decided the outcome of this duel in the first match in Italy: their 10 goals of advantage meant that there were no questions left for the second match. In the return leg in Nis, Serbia, the crowd could see a “gala” from the home team: they were already leading by 10 goals after the first half, conceding only 4 goals from the Italians. In the second half, Serbia continued the run and their advantage grew almost to 20 goals in the second period. Almost every Serbian field player managed to score: 13 players divided the 34 Serbian goals. Serbia’s 34-16 win didn’t leave any doubts about who was the better team in this duel.
Slovakia – Hungary 24-24 (10-11)
Best scorers for Slovakia: M. Skolkova 6, L. Jakubisova 5
Best scorers for Hungary: A. Görbicz 8, K. Klivinyi 3
Hungary arrived to Bratislava, Slovakia with a comfortable 9-goal lead from the first match in Debrecen last Saturday so the Hungarians were with one foot at the world championship already. The match started slowly with a lot of mistakes and it took long for the guests to score their first goal, but Slovakia didn’t use this period well enough to scare the Hungarians. After the first minutes, Hungary managed to take the lead and the control and there were no signs of the Hungarian qualification being in danger. Hungary’s advantage wasn’t more than 2-3 goals, so at some periods, the home team could come closer to them, and in the middle part of the second half, they even took the lead. After a few minutes, Hungary woke up and was up by 2 goals again, and it seemed the Hungarians would get away with the victory, but after a missed clear Hungarian chance, Slovakia managed to equalize in the last seconds. It seemed Slovakia was more satisfied with the draw, still the Hungarians could have been happier: Hungary qualified for the world championship with a 9-goal win on aggregate.
Spain – Ukraine 22-20 (14-5)
Best scorers for Spain: A. Cabral Barbosa 7, A. Gonzalez de Garibay 3, 5 players with 2 goals
Best scorers for Ukraine: V. Borshchenko 6, O. Perederiy 4
The first match between these two teams brought a true roller coaster ride as Spain won the first half by 6, then Ukraine won the second by 6. The match ended with a draw so the situation was easy before the second leg: the winner will book a ticket in Germany. Spain didn’t want to leave any doubts about who will take this ticket: their lead was already 9 goals after the first half. In the beginning of the second part, Spain didn’t want to make the same mistake again so their lead was already 11 goals in the first minutes of the second period. Still something happened after 19:9 and the match in Ukraine seemed to come to life again. Spain was unable to score for not less than 10 minutes and in this period, the Ukrainian team felt the chance for a happy ending: they scored 8 goals unanswered by Spain and the difference was only 2 goals again (19-17). This standing promised a hot ending for this duel but Spain found the way to score right in the best moments. In the last 6 minutes it was Ukraine who couldn’t score so the Eastern European chances faded for the world championship: the 2-goal Spanish victory meant a hard-fought qualification for the Guerreras.
Belarus – Montenegro 25-23 (11-10)
Best scorers for Belarus: N. Vasileuskaya 4, K. Yezhykava 4, N. Kotsina 3, A. Lobach 3, K. Silitskaya 3
Best scorers for Montenegro: D. Jaukovic 5, M. Mehmedovic 5, D. Ujkic 5
Belarus gave a tough time to Montenegro in the first match, the Montenegrin girls could only win the match with a 10-goal victory in the second half. The Montenegrin advantage was 6 goals before the return leg. They were in quite a comfortable situation but not completely calm before the second leg in Minsk. Montenegro started the match better and didn’t want to leave any questions open but Belarus didn’t give up that easily: with 6 goals scored in a row, they turned the game from -3 to +3. However, Montenegro’s advantage was 10 goals on aggregate and the Belorussian chances faded away for the world championship qualification. Belarus wanted to say good bye in a good way and with a good last 15 minutes, they managed to win the match by 2 goals, still it is Montenegro that we will see in Germany.
Slovenia – Croatia 27-28 (12-16)
Best scorers for Slovenia: T. Mavsar 7, T. Stanko 7, A. Gros 4
Best scorers for Croatia: M. Koznjak 6, Z. Maric 6, A. Benko 5
Slovenia took a confident win from Croatia last week, but Croatia didn’t let the world championship tickets go so easily out of their hands. After just 23 minutes played, Croatia washed away the Slovenian advantage on aggregate. This was a wake up call in time for the Slovenians as they tried to reduce the gap to inside the 5-goal margin. With a clearly better second half for the hosts, they even managed to equalize in the final minutes, but despite this, the guests took the victory. Still Slovenia was happier in Celje: they survived the Croatian scare and qualified for the world championship.
Turkey – Czech Republic 23-31 (15-14)
Best scorers for Turkey: B. Yilmaz 6, M. Adiyaman 4
Best scorers for Czech Republic: M. Hrbkova 8, V. Mala 8, M. Jerabkova 6
Czech Republic took a four-goal advantage to Turkey in the bag, and the first match gave the impression that there could still be trouble for the Czech girls in Turkey. In most of the first half, the Czech team was in front by 1-2 goals, Turkey could only take the lead around the 20th minute. Czech Republic was running close behind so the Turkish team couldn’t decrease their deficit significantly. Their one-goal lead after the first half was still keeping their dreams alive, but as the Czech girls took a 4-goal lead in the second half, the Turkish dreams of Germany broke. Maybe also as a result of this, after this point, the Czechs completely dominated the match and in the end, they took a confident 8-goal lead. With a double victory, all in all, the Czech team qualified confidently for the world championship.
Poland – Russia 28-32 (14-15)
Best scorers for Poland: K. Achruk 7, M. Gega 5
Best scorers for Russia: D. Samokhina 5, A. Sen 5, D. Dmitrieva 4, M. Sudakova 4, P. Vedekhina 4
Olympic champions Russia have already decided this duel in the first match: their 11-goal victory in the first match meant a safe ticket to Germany for them. Despite the continuous Polish lead throughout the first half, the first 30 minutes ended with a narrow Russian lead. Even though the Polish world championship qualification was not in sight throughout the whole match and even less in the second half, the home team didn’t give up the hope for winning at least the home match. Even though Russia was in front in most of the second half, the Polish girls put up a great fight to save the day. They even managed to lead as the match turned into the last 10 minutes, but the last 5 minutes were clearly dominated by the Russians. Russia won the second match by 4 goals and their qualification to the world championship was more than earned throughout the 120 mintues.