20 teams eye Women’s World Championship berth

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Europe will occupy half of the 32 starting places at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in November and December. The last 10 of those 16 berths will be decided in the play-offs this week and next week.

Four former world champions are among the 20 teams competing in the play-offs. The aggregate winners of all 10 ties – consisting of a home and an away match – advance to the final tournament. The first leg takes place between Thursday and Sunday (6-9 April), the second leg next week Tuesday and Wednesday (11/12 April). Fans can watch all matches live on EHFTV, though geo-restrictions may apply.

Czech Republic (gold medallists in 1957, as Czechoslovakia), Romania (1962), Hungary (1965), and Germany (1993) are looking to gain their place at the tournament they all won once in the past.

Czech Republic are up against Switzerland, who are searching for their first appearance at the global championship. Romania, who have never missed qualification for a World Championship, also meet a team which still have to make their debut at a final tournament: Portugal.

Hungary have gathered nine World Championship medals in total, but none since taking bronze in 2005, and their last hurdle are Iceland, who seek a second berth after 2011. Germany, who have not missed out on a World Championship for 22 years, are set to meet Greece, who would be debutants if they came through.

Other notable ties involve Spain – the 2019 silver medallists and 2021 hosts and semi-finalists – meeting 1995 bronze medallists Austria, who have qualified only once over the past six World Championships; and 2013 silver medallists Serbia taking on unheralded Türkiye.

The 10 play-off winners will join the six European nations that have already been confirmed for the 29 November-17 December final tournament: hosts Denmark, Norway (also the defending champions), and Sweden, as well as the three highest-ranked non-hosting teams at the Women’s EHF EURO 2022: Montenegro, France, and Netherlands.

It is the second time the Women’s World Championship consists of 32 participating teams, but the first time the tournament will be hosted by three nations.

2023 IHF Women’s World Championship – European qualification play-offs

First leg:

Thursday 6 April:
- 17:45 CEST: Poland vs Kosovo

Friday 7 April:
- 16:00 CEST: Türkiye vs Serbia
- 19:00 CEST: Slovakia vs Croatia

Saturday 8 April:
- 15:00 CEST: Switzerland vs Czech Republic
- 16:00 CEST: Romania vs Portugal
- 18:00 CEST: Austria vs Spain
- 18:00 CEST: Iceland vs Hungary
- 18:30 CEST: Italy vs Slovenia
- 19:00 CEST: North Macedonia vs Ukraine

Sunday 9 April:
- 17:15 CEST: Germany vs Greece

Second leg:

Tuesday 11 April:
- 17:00 CEST: Ukraine vs North Macedonia (in Hungary)
- 19:30 CEST: Czech Republic vs Switzerland

Wednesday 12 April:
- 17:00 CEST: Greece vs Germany
- 17:30 CEST: Slovenia vs Italy
- 18:00 CEST: Croatia vs Slovakia
- 18:00 CEST: Serbia vs Türkiye
- 18:15 CEST: Hungary vs Iceland
- 20:15 CEST: Kosovo vs Poland
- 20:30 CEST: Spain vs Austria
- 21:15 CEST: Portugal vs Romania

All matches streamed live on EHFTV but geo-restrictions may apply.

Photos © Axel Heimken & Anze Malovrh / kolektiff

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