11 teams seal 2025 IHF Men's World Championship tickets in dramatic Qualification Europe week

12 May. 2024

11 teams seal 2025 IHF Men's World Championship tickets in dramatic Qualification Europe week

11 teams have sealed their tickets to the 2025 IHF Men’s World Championship after the conclusion of the European Qualification Phase 2 – Part 2, with some dramatic twists and turns and even a doubleheader going to penalties, which concluded a magnificent week throughout Europe.

Slovenia, a team that have qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, were close to miss out on a berth for the 2025 IHF Men’s World Championship, after conceding a 26:27 loss in the first leg against Switzerland, in Andy Schmid’s official debut as a coach for the Switzerland men’s national team.

In the second leg, Slovenia had a great start and led by as many as three goals, only for Switzerland to muster a comeback and take the lead in the second half. Goals from Blaz Janc and Dean Bombac, who combined for 17 goals, helped Slovenia take a 34:33 win, with the doubleheader going to penalties to decide the qualified team.

There, Slovenia converted all their four penalties, while Switzerland missed two of them, through Samuel and Manuel Zehnder, as Uros Zorman’s side sealed their third consecutive IHF Men’s World Championship berth.

The biggest surprise came in the form of Italy, who have sealed a berth for the world handball flagship competition only for the second time in history, ending a 27-year wait and celebrating two wins out of two matches against Montenegro.

In the first leg, Italy took a 32:26 home win over their opponents, but Montenegro’s superior experience meant that the doubleheader was not over. Nevertheless, Italy had an otherworldly performance in the second leg, taking a 34:32 win in Podgorica, as Umberto Bronzo and Simone Mengon each scored eight goals, for a 66:58 aggregate win.

Another very well-balanced tie was the one between Spain and Serbia, where Spain started with a four-goal lead, thanks to their 32:28 win in the first leg. In a packed Spens Arena in Novi Sad, Serbia had a fantastic outing from goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev, who saved 16 shots for a 44% saving efficiency.

On the back of a 5:1 start, Serbia rode their luck and opened a six-goal gap after 45 minutes, but Spain went toe-to-toe until the end, as their experience bailed Jordi Ribera’s side out and Serbia could only muster a three-goal win, 25:22, insufficient for their claim for a ticket for Croatia/Denmark/Norway 2025.

A dramatic doubleheader saw the Faroe Islands’ claim for a maiden World Championship berth end in despair, despite their seven-goal home win against North Macedonia. By the end of the first half of the second leg in Skopje, North Macedonia had already cut the gap to three goals and Zharko Peshevski’s eight-goal outing was enough to lift his side to a 34:26 win, which saw a dramatic comeback for Kiril Lazarov’s side, with a 61:60 aggregate win.

Comebacks were on the menu for the Netherlands and Czechia, who lost the first legs of their doubleheaders against Greece and Romania, respectively, only to produce excellent performances in the second legs. The Dutch side sweat in the first half, but secured a 58:56 aggregate win against Greece, while a fantastic defensive performance for Czechia saw Xavi Sabate’s side clinch a clear 59:51 aggregate win against Romania.

Another side that engineered a comeback was Poland, who lost the first match against Slovakia, but bounced back with a 33:25 away win thanks to 10 goals coming from line player Kamil Syprzak.

A 55:45 aggregate win saw Portugal dispatch Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the largest gap was secured by Iceland, with a 87:49 aggregate win against Estonia. Austria (64:56 against Georgia) and Hungary (69:49 against Lithuania) also made it through to the 2025 IHF Men’s World Championship.

Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Czechia, Spain, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Portugal, Iceland, Poland and Austria join other 18 qualified teams, taking the total to 29 sides having already secured their places for the 2025 IHF Men’s World Championship.

The draw for the preliminary round of the 2025 IHF Men’s World Championship is scheduled for 29 May.

European Qualification Phase 2 – Part 2 - results

  • Lithuania vs Hungary 49:69 on aggregate
  • Italy vs Montenegro 66:58 on aggregate
  • Greece vs Netherlands 56:58 on aggregate
  • Romania vs Czechia 51:59 on aggregate
  • Spain vs Serbia 54:53 on aggregate
  • Faroe Islands vs North Macedonia 60:61 on aggregate
  • Slovenia vs Switzerland 64:61 on aggregate
  • Portugal vs Bosnia and Herzegovina 55:45 on aggregate
  • Iceland vs Estonia 87:49 on aggregate
  • Poland vs Slovakia 64:51 on aggregate
  • Georgia vs Austria 56:64 on aggregate

Photo credit: Federazione Italiana Giuoco Handball (FIGH)