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World Championship

Kosovo celebrate first victory and keep hopes alive 

EHF / Björn Pazen

In their last home match of the IHF Men’s World Championship 2023 qualification phase 1, Kosovo showed extreme fighting spirit – they wanted to say farewell to their fans with a win, and finally took their first victory in this qualification round. 

After two unlucky defeats against Greece (20:21, 25:26) in the previous rounds, Valon Dedaj, Drenit Tahirukaj and their teammates struck back against Turkey. Due to the 24:26 defeat at Prishtina on Wednesday, the Turks missed a crucial chance to secure second position in the group and qualification for the next stage.  

Remaining on four points and having the last match against Greece means Turkey do not have their fate in their own hands. Belgium – with three points – still have two matches, at Greece and against Kosovo, ahead, and have the chance to pass the Turks in the very last round. But even Kosovo are back in the race now, if Belgium and Turkey lose all their remaining matches. 

Kosovo vs Turkey 26:24 (13:13)

  • Turkey won the first leg of this duel 25:23 – but missed too many chances in the final stages of the return leg after leading 24:23
  • the biggest gap in the first half was the Turkish 4:1 advance in minute eight, then Kosovo paced up and managed to get their first lead at 9:8.  
  • the rollercoaster ride continued right after the break. First Kosovo pulled ahead, then Turkey scored a 3:0 run – but the hosts still stood strong and were ahead again nine minutes before the end at 23:22 
  • when Drenit Tahirukaj (two goals) and Veron Dedaj scored a 3:0 run for Kosovo’s 26:24 in minute 57, Turkey were forced to take their final time-out, but failed to score again 
  • Dedaj (nine goals) and Tahirukaj (seven strikes) were best scorers for the victors, while Görkem Bicer netted six times for the Turks. 

Second match of round 5:
Greece vs Belgium
Thursday 13 January, 18:15 CET 

Round 6:
Belgium vs. Kosovo
Saturday 15 January, 20:15 CET
Turkey vs. Greece
Sunday 16 January, 12:00 CET 

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