Crunch pairings set for 28th IHF Men’s World Championship Qualification Europe – Phase 2

02 Feb. 2022

Crunch pairings set for 28th IHF Men’s World Championship Qualification Europe – Phase 2

The line-up for the 28th IHF Men’s World Championship is starting to take shape, with 15 of the 32 berths for the final tournament in Poland and Sweden secured already.

The Men’s EHF EURO 2022, which concluded in Budapest, Hungary, on 30 January, ensured three more berths for Europe, with Spain and France, who finished second and fourth in the tournament, as well as Norway, the fifth-placed side in the competition, earning safe passage to the world flagship competition, which will take place in nine venues between 11 and 29 January 2023.

However, the European teams who have not secured their participation for Poland/Sweden 2023 learned their fate on Saturday, 29 January, as the race for the other nine European spots still open has heated up, after the draw event for the two upcoming Qualification Phase rounds in March and April.

The eight teams who have qualified through Qualification Phase 1, plus Switzerland, the best-ranked team that has not qualified for the EHF EURO 2022, went into one pot for Round 1 of the Qualification Phase 2 and will face the teams that finished on the last nine places in the standings at the European premium competition.

While Slovenia are clear favourites in the pairing against Italy, some tough matches await favourites like Portugal or North Macedonia, who will face Switzerland and Romania, respectively, in the race for a comeback to the IHF Men’s World Championship. Austria are also clear favourites against Estonia, while the plucky Faroe Islands team will face Belarus.

In their quest to return to the IHF Men’s World Championship for the first time since 2015, Bosnia and Herzegovina first meet Greece, while Ukraine must first beat Finland to hope for a comeback to the world flagship competition, with their last appearance being at Germany 2007. Lithuania are also favoured against Israel, while the co-hosts of the EHF EURO 2022, Slovakia, must beat Belgium to secure safe passage to the next round of the Qualification Phase 2.

The double-headers will take place on 16/17 March and 19/20 March, with the winners progressing to Round 2, where they will face the teams that finished sixth to 15th at the EHF EURO 2022.

After an impressive outing in Hungary and Slovakia, Iceland, who came in sixth at the EHF EURO 2022, will play against the winner of Austria and Estonia, with their sole aim to rise to the occasion once again and qualify for Poland/Sweden 2023, as their young side aim to impress.

One of the surprise packages of the European premium competition, the Netherlands, who eliminated co-hosts Hungary in the preliminary round with an emphatic win, will also have their work cut out, as they will meet either Portugal or Switzerland, having already won against the former side in the preliminary round of the EHF EURO 2022 this January.

Powerhouses Germany, drawn against the winner of Belarus vs Faroe Islands, Hungary, who will play against the winner of the Israel vs Lithuania clash, and Croatia, facing either Ukraine or Finland, will be favoured to extend their appearance streaks at the IHF Men’s World Championship.

In balanced matches, Serbia will face the winner of the Italy and Slovenia pairing, Montenegro will either play against Greece or Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the Czech Republic must beat either Romania or North Macedonia to proceed to Poland/Sweden 2023.

As they nurture a new generation and improve their final standings on a tournament-by-tournament basis, Russia will progress to the final tournament in Poland and Sweden if they beat Slovakia or Belgium.

The second part of the Qualification Phase 2 will be played in a knock-out format over two legs, set on 13/14 April and 16/17 April, with the nine winners joining the 15 already qualified teams for Poland/Sweden 2023.

Hosts Poland and Sweden and reigning champions Denmark have already progressed to the tournament, joined by three European teams after the Men’s EHF EURO 2022: Spain, France and Norway.

The 2022 AHF Men’s Asian Championship has also sent five teams to the 28th IHF Men’s World Championship, winners Qatar being joined by Bahrain, Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea.

The 2022 South and Central American Men's Championship also took place last month in Recife, Brazil, from 25 and 29 January, handing four berths for Poland/Sweden 2023. Winners Brazil, runners-up Argentina, Chile and Uruguay will take part in the competition once again, after featuring at Egypt 2021.

Qualification Europe – Phase 2 draw

Round 1

  • Ukraine vs Finland
  • Italy vs Slovenia
  • Portugal vs Switzerland
  • Austria vs Estonia
  • Greece vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • North Macedonia vs Romania
  • Israel vs Lithuania
  • Slovakia vs Belgium
  • Faroe Islands vs Belarus

Round 2

  • Winner of Ukraine/Finland vs Croatia
  • Winner of Italy/Slovenia vs Serbia
  • Winner of Portugal/Switzerland vs Netherlands
  • Winner of Austria/Estonia vs Iceland
  • Winner of Greece/Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Montenegro
  • Czech Republic vs winner of North Macedonia/Romania
  • Winner of Israel/Lithuania vs Hungary
  • Russia vs winner of Slovakia/Belgium
  • Germany vs winner of Faroe Islands/Belarus

Visit for more information on the IHF Men’s World Championship Qualification Europe – Phase 2. 

Photo: Jure Erzen/kolektiffimages