17 Jun. 2019
After 96 matches, the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 qualification phase concluded on Sunday 16 June across Europe, and the 24 national sides to contest the biggest edition in the continental championship’s history are now set. Three of the most notable qualifications are those of the Netherlands, Latvia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, none of which have ever secured a place at the Men’s EHF EURO before.
The historic qualifications come after the Netherlands and Bosnia-Herzegovina finished as two of the best third-ranked teams overall. The Netherlands earned their place with a 25:21 victory over Latvia in the final round, which took their record to three wins in Group 4. Despite the loss, Latvia were through to the final tournament thanks to their eight points and second place in the group.
Bosnia-Herzegovina clinched their berth thanks to four victories, the last of which was against Czech Republic, 24:23 in Group 5. The other two teams that secured their places as the best third-ranked sides were Serbia and Ukraine.
Alongside Latvia, 15 other teams booked their tickets to the final tournament co-hosted by Norway, Sweden and Austria as one of the top two nations in the eight playing groups: 2016 European champions Germany, Poland, Croatia, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Iceland, 2017 World Championship bronze medallists Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belarus, record world champions France, Portugal, Hungary, Russia, current Olympic and world title holders Denmark, and Montenegro.
The only team to finish the qualification phase with a perfect record of wins was Germany, who defeated Poland, Israel and Kosovo twice each in Group 1. Croatia and Hungary also proceeded through the phase undefeated, with five victories and one draw each that placed them on top of Group 2 and Group 7, respectively.
In addition, Sweden, Austria and Norway were automatically qualified as hosts of the event, while Spain booked their spot when they raised their first continental trophy at the previous EHF EURO in Croatia in 2018.
After finishing as the three lowest-ranked teams in the qualification phase, Estonia, Finland and Belgium will play the EHF EURO 2022 relegation round alongside the two teams that progressed from phase one, Cyprus and Luxembourg. With their victory at the IHF Emerging Nations Championship in Tbilisi on Sunday night, Georgia also secured a place in the 2020 qualifiers relegation round, where they will have a second chance to reach phase two after finishing behind Cyprus in their phase one group.
Slovakia were one of the lowest-ranked teams in the qualifiers, but as co-hosts of the EHF EURO 2022, they automatically have a place at the final tournament in three years’ time.
The Men’s EHF EURO 2020 will run from 9 to 26 January, with 24 teams playing the event for the first time after the tournament expanded from the previous number of 16 nations. The draw to determine the playing groups will take place on June 28 in Vienna.
More information on the Men’s EHF EURO can be found on the official website.
Photo: Netherlands Handball Federation