Historic day for Dutch handball

QUALIFICATION REVIEW 2: For the first time, Netherlands qualify for a Men’s EHF EURO, while three teams from group 5 also book their tickets

Photo: Dutch Handball Federation

Together with Latvia, who already booked their ticket to EHF EURO 2020 in round 5, Netherlands will be another debutant at the final tournament. Coincidentally, the Dutch side sealed the deal to finish among the four best third-ranked teams by beating Latvia on Sunday.

Beside the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina booked their EHF EURO tickets in the final qualification matches of groups 4 to 6.

Slovenia, in group 4, as well as France and Portugal in group 6 were already confirmed as participants.

Group 4:

Slovenia vs Estonia 32:28 (19:11)

Slovenia finish on top of the group, while Estonia remain on zero points and have to go through the relegation round to book their spot for the EHF EURO 2022 Qualifiers. Slovenia enjoyed a double-figured lead at 19:9, then decelerated and allowed Estonia to reduce the gap to a more even looking final result.

Netherlands vs Latvia 25:21 (13:11)

After Latvia had qualified for EHF EURO 2020 already on Wednesday, the Dutch side grabbed their chance with a strong team performance on Sunday. Stopping Latvian giant Dainis Kristopans, who had scored 13 goals against Slovenia in round 5, but who scored only twice on Sunday, was a key for the Dutch victory.

The hosts started focused, but only managed to take a two-goal advantage into the locker room. Latvia returned stronger and even took the lead once at 18:17 in the 41st minute – this served as a wake-up call for the Netherlands though, who then showed their strongest performance in this match to seal the deal with a 7:1 run for 24:19.

Netherlands qualify as one of the four best third-ranked teams.

Group 5:

Czech Republic vs Bosnia-Herzegovina 23:24 (10:11)

The match in Ostrava was a 60 minute roller coaster ride for both sides – and both opponents eventually booked their ticket to EHF EURO 2020. Belarus, Czech Republic and Bosnia-Herzegovina finished the group with eight points each, which meant an internal table only taking the matches between these three teams had to decide the final positions.

Czech Republic are group winners thanks to the best goal difference, followed by Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the best third-ranked team of all eight groups.

The lead changed 16 times throughout the match, no team could cast off their opponents by more than two goals. Eight minutes before the end, Czech Republic were ahead 21:19, then Bosnia-Herzegovina scored three unanswered goals.

Eventually even being one player down did not stop the Bosnians from scoring the winning goal 30 seconds before the end.

Belarus vs Finland 40:15 (20:8)

With 12 of 14 court players scoring, Belarus enjoyed an easy-going match to secure their EHF EURO berth. After winning the crucial encounter at Bosnia-Herzegovina in Round 5, head coach Iouri Chetvsov's side did not need much to qualify for EHF EURO 2020.

Finland remain on zero points and will have to fight for a spot in the EHF EURO 2022 Qualifiers in the relegation round.

Group 6:

Portugal vs Lithuania 28:28 (16:13)

The draw was a lucky one for the away side, who did not lead for a single second of the match.

After their early qualification for EHF EURO 2020 after Round 5, Portugal did not have to give all they had - and let a three-goal advantage (28:25) slip from their hands in the last four minutes. Top scorer of the match was Lithuanian Mindaugas Duncius with nine goals.

France vs Romania 34:25 (19:14)

The two left-handed stars, Nedim Remili and Valentin Porte, were the French top scorers in a one-sided match.

With five wins from six matches, the hosts finished top of their group, while Romania only won one match - but avoided the relegation round because of  this victory.

written by Björn Pazen / ts