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Date: 10/20/2017

Phase 1 of European Qualification for the 26th IHF Men’s World Championship begins in late October, with 10 matches to be played between the 25th and 29th. Qualification Phase 1 sees 23 teams divided into six playing groups, from which the top-ranked nations in each will qualify for Phase 2.


Phase 1 Groups 1, 5 and 6 will be played in a home-and-away format, with three rounds of matches scheduled from October 2017 to the middle of January 2018. Groups 2, 3 and 4 will be contested as tournaments in January, taking place in Lithuania, Italy and Portugal.


In Group 1, Russia begin their qualification campaign against Slovakia, while Luxembourg play Finland in their opener. In Group 5, Turkey will host Belgium for the first qualification match, and Greece will travel to the Netherlands.


As opposed to the four teams contesting Groups 1 and 5, there are only three nations in Group 6 and the playing format is therefore different. Bosnia-Herzegovina take on Estonia in the first two games on October 25 and 28. The third team in Group 6, Switzerland, will wait until the next round, in January, to take the court for their first qualification match.


Russia, who ranked 12th at the 2017 World Championship in France after being knocked out by bronze medallists Slovenia in the eighth-finals, will play their first matches without several key players missing with injuries.


“[Pavel] Atman, [Vadim] Bogdanov and [Maxim] Mikhalin, unfortunately, are injured and will not be able to take part in the first matches of the qualifying tournament,” said Russia head coach Eduard Koksharov. “We hope that no one else will be lost because of injuries.”


The first-ranked teams in the Phase 1 groups will proceed to the play-off round, Phase 2, in the summer of 2018. Nine places at the 2019 World Championship in Germany and Denmark will be decided in the two-leg play-offs, along with one ticket for the team that wins the European championship in January in Croatia.


As the current champions, France are automatically qualified for the event in 2019, as are hosts Denmark and Germany. If one of these nations claims the EHF EURO title, the continental championship place will go to the next best-ranked side not already qualified for the World Championship.


More information on European qualification for Germany and Denmark 2019 can be found on the official website.