08 Jun. 2019
The 25th IHF Women’s World Championship line-up is complete. When the European play-offs concluded on Thursday 6 June, nine teams celebrated their qualification for the pinnacle event in Japan this December.
Among those to celebrate were three-time title winners Norway. Playing the qualification phase was an unusual situation for the Scandinavian side, who have secured their place at the World Championship as title holders or one of the top sides at the EHF EURO since as far back as the very first European championship organised by the European Handball Federation in 1994.
The two-time Olympic champions left no doubt that they deserve their place at the World Championship, defeating Belarus 65:49 on aggregate – 34:21 away in the first leg, then 31:28 at home. Norway’s victory was not the most decisive, however. That honour belonged to another 2017 World Championship semi-finalist: Sweden, who beat Slovakia 78:42 over the two legs.
By far the most thrilling encounter was that between Montenegro and Czech Republic. After Czech Republic memorably eliminated 2015 World Championship bronze medallists Romania in the eighth-final stage at the previous edition, they will not have a chance to repeat the feat in December in Japan. Though the two-leg clash finished with a 49:49 draw (26:24 to Czech Republic, then 25:23 to Montenegro), Montenegro clinched the World Championship berth based on the away goals rule, as they scored more on Czech Republic’s court.
Germany also took a narrow victory, though it was considerably larger than Montenegro’s. The hosts of the previous Women’s World Championship beat Croatia 49:45 overall, following a 24:24 draw in the first leg.
The remaining encounters saw Denmark beat Switzerland 61:36 on aggregate, Serbia defeat Poland 60:49, Slovenia win 71:57 versus North Macedonia, Hungary take a 69:42 victory over Austria, and Spain beat Iceland 66:58.
The nine European teams join the four other sides from their continent already qualified: France as reigning world champions, and Russia, the Netherlands and Romania as the top-three squads at the EHF EURO 2018 after the title winners France.
Together with the three African representatives, four nations that qualified through the 2018 Asian Championship, two from the South and Central American Championship, and one from the North America and the Caribbean Championship, plus hosts Japan, the start list for the upcoming World Championship is complete.
The World Championship will be played from November 30 to December 15, 2019.
Photo: Handball Federation of Montenegro/Stefan Ivanovic