Despite their defeats in the second leg of the European playoffs for the Women’s World Championship in Germany (1 to 17 December 2017) on Thursday, Montenegro and Slovenia booked their tickets as well as Russia and the Czech Republic, who won the second encounter like they did in the first leg.
Now all 14 European sides to qualify for Germany are confirmed, another potential option for a 15th European team is the IHF wild card, which will be granted right before the draw event on 27 June in Hamburg.
Belarus vs Montenegro 25:23 (11:10)
For the fourth time in a row, Montenegro clinched their berth for a Women’s World Championship. For the 2012 European Champions and Olympic silver medallist, the 33:26 home win finally was the key to qualify for Germany 2017. The rejuvenated team of head coach Dragan Adzic was ahead at Minsk most of the time, but finally allowed the host to take this victory.
The match was like a roller coaster ride, as first the Balkan side was in front by 6:3, then Belarus turned the tide to 10:7, before the visitors again became dominant, forging ahead to 15:12 and 20:16. Latest at this point, it was obvious that the hosts are out of the race for Germany, but finally fought brave to take a close win.
Best scorers of the match was the Montenegrin trio Mehmedovic, Jaukovic and Ujkic by five goals each. Despite their huge successes in 2012, the so far best position of Montenegro was the eighth rank in 2015, when they were eliminated by later-on World Champions Norway in the quarter-finals.
Poland vs Russia 28:32 (14:15)
Being eleven goals below after the first leg (20:31) was too much for the Polish side: Olympic champions Russia won both qualification duels like they did two years ago against Germany. The side of head coach Evgeny Trefilov had full control of the match though they were below intermediately. Without several top stars such as Olympic MVP Anna Vyakhireva, Russia were down by 6:9, but then turned the match around to be ahead at the break.
Latest then, all Polish hopes had been shattered. But the team, of head coach Leszek Krowicki never gave up, boosted by their great wing player Kinga Acghruk (seven goals) - but the deficit from the first leg was too high to turn it around.
The four times World Champions (2001, 2003, 2007, 2009) took revenge for the quarter-final elimination by Poland in Denmark 2015.
Slovenia vs Croatia 27:28 (12:16)
For the first time since 2005 and for the fifth time in total, Slovenia clinched their berth for a Women’s World Championship. After a clear elimination by France two years ago, now a great comeback in the second half of the neighbour’s duel provided the team of Uros Bregar with the ticket to Germany.
The 28:23 away win at Croatia in the first leg seemed to be the cornerstone for the qualification, but after only 23 minutes in Celje, the Croats had turned the aggregate result around. When Zana Maric scored for the 13:7, Croatia virtually had been at Germany. Even the 16:12 advance at the break gave the Croats a chance to proceed, even twelve minutes before the end, the visitors had their fate in their hands being ahead 24:21.
But backed by the overall seven goals of Tjasa Stanko, Slovenia cheated the gallows, levelled the result at 27:27 90 seconds before the end - and grabbed the chance for their participation in Germany. Like for the 2015 World Championship, when they were eliminated by Sweden, the Croats miss the pinnacle event of this season. Benko and Maric were their top scorers by six goals each.
Turkey vs Czech Republic 23:31 (15:14)
The hurdle was too high for Turkey to qualify for their first ever major tournament: After the 25:29 defeat at Brno, the Turkish side was confident to make it, but in the end, their biggest advance against the Czech Republic was two goals - too less to hope for the ticket to Germany.
In contrast to the 2015 qualification round, when they were chanceless against later-on silver medallists Netherlands, the Czech side had no problems to beat Turkey twice and to book their seventh ticket to a Women’s World Championship since the separation from Slovakia.
Like in the first leg, Michaela Hrbkova was the top scorer of the Czech side by seven goals like Veronika Mala, while Betül Yilmaz netted in six times for Turkey. The match was on the edge for 40 minutes, but Turkey had their last lead at 17:16, before the Czechs stroke back and latest booked the ticket being ahead at 24:19 in minute 45.
By today, those teams are confirmed for Germany 2017:
Europe: Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Sweden, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Spain, Montenegro, Slovenia, Russia, Czech Republic.
Asia: Korea, Japan, China
Africa: Angola, Tunisia, Cameroon
The draw for the preliminary round groups will take place in Hamburg on 27 June (14:00 hrs. local time).
The final qualification event, the Pan-American championships, will start in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on 18 June.