Slovenia out, Serbia celebrate

MAL7445 V EHF / Björn Pazen

All five winners of the first legs also won the second duels in the final qualification stage for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden on Saturday.

Serbia won the defence battle against Slovenia by turning a 18:20 deficit into a 23:20 win, thanks to impressive goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev. Iceland, Croatia and Hungary did not face much resistance from Austria, Finland and Israel; Germany had a lacklustre first half in the Faroe Islands, but took a 33:27 win.

On Sunday, the last three European tickets for the World Championship will be decided as Netherlands play Portugal (first leg: 33:30), Montenegro host Greece (first leg: 23:25) and North Macedonia face the Czech Republic (first leg: 24:24).

Hosts Poland and Sweden and defending world champions Denmark qualified directly; Spain, France and Norway booked their tickets via the EHF EURO 2022; and Belgium were through after beating Slovakia in their qualifying matches.


Hungary vs Israel 31:22 (15:13)
first leg: 33:32, aggregate: 64:54

  • after the close away victory at Israel, Hungary were not endangered on home ground, despite missing their top star Bence Bahnhidi
  • thanks to an aggregate 10-goal win, Hungary have qualified for their 22nd Men’s World Championship
  • Hungary were never behind in the whole match, but the biggest gap in the more or less equal first half was only four goals
  • Israel were close until 19:21 in minute 40, but then the hosts scored a 10:3 run until the end
  • the best scorers were Gábor Anscin and Zoltan Szita with six strikes for Hungary and Yoav Lumbroso netted seven for Israel, but the visitors’ best player was goalkeeper Dan Tepper with 14 saves

Croatia vs Finland 36:22 (18:10)
first leg: 34:21, aggregate: 70:43

  • as expected, Croatia booked their ticket to the World Championship, by an impressive aggregate margin of +27 goals; today’s 14-goal win is their new record in the qualifiers
  • Croatia, world champions in 2003 and three times silver medallists, secured their 15th consecutive participation at a World Championship since 1995
  • Finland have to wait two more years to hope for their second ever World Championship qualification after 1958
  • the match was on an equal level until 9:8, then Croatia pulled ahead with a 9:2 run for the decisive half-time score of 18:10
  • the biggest gap was 15 goals and the best scorers were Marino Maric (seven for the hosts) and Roni Syrjala (five for Finland)



Iceland vs Austria 34:26 (19:15)
first leg: 34:30, aggregate: 68:56

  • after two Icelandic coaches (Dagur Sigurdsson and Patrekur Johanesson) had steered Austria to several World and European Championships, this time Iceland ended the visitors’ hopes
  • Iceland reach their 22nd World Championship and the eighth in a row since 2011
  • with eight goals, left wing Bjarki Mar Elisson was again top scorer for Iceland, combining 19 goals in both qualifiers. He was ahead of Aron Palmarsson (seven goals) and the best Austrian scorer, line player Tobias Wagner (six)
  • after a dominant Austrian start, Iceland took their first lead at 12:11 - and thanks to the 19:15 lead at the break, the overall advantage including the first leg was already eight goals. By the score of 23:16, the Austrian resistance was broken
  • after winning only two matches and finishing in 20th position, Iceland hope for a clear improvement in Poland and Sweden

Serbia vs Slovenia 23:20 (10:8)
first leg: 34:31, aggregate: 57:51

  • after missing the 2021 World Championship in Egypt due to their 20th position at the EHF EURO 2022, Serbia booked their fifth ticket for a World Championship
  • as in 2019, when they were eliminated by Hungary, Slovenia - 2017 World Championship bronze medallists - missed the qualification after two defeats in the first official matches of new coach Uros Zorman
  • despite six goals from Dean Bombac, Slovenia were never able to close up the three-goal deficit from the first leg on home ground in a defence-orientated match
  • five minutes before the end, the visitors seemed to be on the right path, leading 20:18, but then the Serbs scored the last five goals – including one by goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev – as Slovenia failed to score in the last five attacks
  • both goalkeepers showed outstanding performances, topped by Milosavljev (16 saves and a save efficiency of 45 per cent), while Slovenian Klemen Ferlin saved 12 shots

Faroe Islands vs Germany 27:33 (16:15)
first leg: 26:34, aggregate: 53:67

  • despite an extremely weak performance in the first half, three-time world champions Germany qualified for a Men’s World Championship for the 26th time, and for the 13th time in a row since 1999
  • the German Handball Federation has 15 times more members (750,000) than Faroe Islands have inhabitants (52,000) – and these duels for the World Championship ticket were the first in the history of both sides
  • scoring six of his nine goals, Faroe super talent Elias Ellefsen a Skipagotu was unstoppable by the German defence before the break - and provided his team with the sensational half-time lead
  • the hosts were boosted by the 1,800 fans in the arena, but after the break, Germany took full control, allowing the Faroese only four goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half to be ahead by 26:20 and to extend the overall gap to 14 goals
  • it was the Faroes’ second best international match after beating the Czech Republic last year in the qualification for the EHF EURO 2022

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