08 Mar. 2023
The first week of March served as a preparation for the women’s national teams, who are ramping up their performances for the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship or for the Qualification Phase of the competition, which will take place in Denmark, Norway and Sweden between 29 November and 17 December.
Two of the co-hosts – Denmark and Norway – were present at the traditional Golden League tournament, which took place in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, with a three-day action-packed schedule. The Netherlands and the Czech Republic also took part in the competition.
The Czech Republic, whose coach Bent Dahl was only appointed last autumn, stood no chance against the three powerhouses, which are already qualified for Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, and finished last with zero points, while the other three teams traded wins between them.
As Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands all finished with four points, it was all about the goal difference. Norway eventually sealed the first place after winning against the Netherlands (33:21) and the Czech Republic (42:26) with a +26 goal difference.
The Netherlands ended up in second place after winning 28:21 against Denmark, with the reigning bronze medallist at Spain 2021 finishing third, as their goal difference +5 was inferior to the Netherlands’ +10.
Another interesting tournament took place in Batalha, Portugal, with Spain, Portugal, Italy and Cape Verde fighting for the first place. Overwhelming favourites Spain were not up to par, and after winning against Italy (35:22) and Cape Verde (35:11), they faltered against Portugal, which clinched an impressive 20:19 win.
Neither Portugal nor Spain are qualified for the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, with Portugal facing Romania in a crunch doubleheader in April in the Qualification Phase 2, while Spain meet Austria in a battle for a place in the tournament.
Portugal’s opponents, Romania, had two friendly matches against Ukraine on home court in Bistrița, which they won, 29:23 and 29:24, while playing without star left back Cristina Neagu and line player Crina Pintea, who were rested for the clash against Portugal.
A three-team tournament also took place in Heidelberg, Germany, with Hungary, Germany and Poland tuning up their form before the Qualification Phase 2. Germany won against both opponents, 26:20 against Hungary and 32:30 against Poland, while Hungary lost both matches after their 29:31 match against Poland.
Germany are favoured against Greece, Hungary face Iceland and Poland must beat Kosovo in the Qualification Phase 2 of the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship.
Last but not least, two already qualified teams for Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023 met in Montbéliard, France, where over 6000 people came to cheer for their favourites in their matches against co-hosts Sweden.
Blandine Dancette, Amandine Leynaud, Alexandra Lacrabère, Camille Ayglon-Saurina and Siraba Dembélé-Pavlović were celebrated as they officially retired from the national team in an exciting ceremony which touched both fans and France’s staff alike.
On the court, France secured two wins, 24:18 and 24:22, underlining once again their defensive prowess. Olivier Krumbholz’s side is one of the 19 teams already qualified for Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023 after finishing fourth at the EHF EURO 2022.
Photo: Marco Wolf