The next three European playoffs for the Women’s World Championship in Germany (1 to 17 December 2017) have been decided on Wednesday night - and three powerhouses of European handball have clinched their berth: Serbia (silver medallist in 2013), Hungary (silver medallist in 2003) and Spain (bronze medallist in 2011) joined the field of participants.
The final five European participants for Germany 2017 will be decided on Thursday, followed by the final qualification event, the Pan-American championships, which will start in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on 18 June.
Serbia vs Italy 34:16 (14:4)
After missing the 2015 World Championship in Denmark due to their elimination by Romania in the playoffs, Serbia this time left no doubt on their ticket to Germany. Two wins and an impressive goal difference of +28 in the two duels with Italy speak a clear language. After the gate to Germany had already been widely opened after the 33:23 away win in the first leg, the 2013 WCh silver medallists overran Italy already in the first half of the re-match. Scoring only four goals in 30 says it all about the Italian attack and the Serbian defence. It took Italy 48 minutes top net in for the tenth time - and then Serbia had already 23 goals on their tally.
Funny enough the best scorer oh is Italian, Laura Rotondo by six strikes. Nearly all Serbs were part of the scorer list, with Jovana Stojlikovic on top by five goals. Since the separation from Montenegro, the rejuvenated Serbian side have book their third ticket for a World Championship.
Slovakia vs Hungary 24:24 (10:11)
They needed a ten-goal-win to proceed after the 19:29 defeat in the first leg - but finally, the Slovaks had to be happy with the draw, while the Hungarians celebrated their 21st ticket to a Women’s World Championship at the 23rd final tournament. Three times only, the hosts were ahead in an equal encounter - at 3:2, 17:16 and 18:17, not enough to make the miracle come true. Hungary had full control from the start, thanks to an again extraordinary performance of Anita Görbicz, who became top scorer by eight goals. When the visitors were ahead 23:20 the deal seemed to be sealed, but the Slovaks - boosted by the new spectators record of 8000 fans in Bratislava - never gave up and levelled the final result by a buzzer-beater of Eva Minarcikova. Best scorer of hosts was Martina Skolkova by six goals, though she had to leave the court in minute 46 after her third suspension.
Hungary’s last medals at World Championships date back to silver in 2003 and bronze in 2005, at the 2015 final tournament in Denmark they finished tenth.
Spain vs Ukraine 22:20 (14:5)
What a parallel rundown to the first leg, what thriller again: After a lucky 24:24 in the away match at Ukraine after a 12:5 lead, Spain seemed to have learnt their lesson - but then made the same mistakes again. The Iberians showed an outstanding performance in the first half, allowing the visitors only to score five goals. And as Spain even extended the gap to eleven goals (17:6 and 18:7) right after the break, the winners’ way to Germany seemed to be paved. But then, the hosts lost their rhythm and precision in a never expected way. Within only 13 minutes, Ukraine scored a 10:1 series for the 19:17 - and everything was open again, as the Spaniards were extremely shaken. But finally Alexandrina Barbosa prevented a disaster for here side by netting the crucial goals in the final stages. Her seventh strike for the 22:19 decided the match.
Like in the first leg, Viktoriya Borshchenko was Ukrainian top scorer, after nine goals on home ground, she now netted in six times.
Spain booked their ticket for a World Championship for the ninth time, their best result was the bronze medal in 2011.
By today, those teams are confirmed for Germany 2017:
Europe: Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Sweden, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Spain
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).