Ukraine and Czech Republic secure World Championship tickets
Ukraine and the Czech Republic both booked themselves on the plane to the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship on Tuesday with dominant wins over North Macedonia and Switzerland respectively.
The tournament in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in December will be Ukraine's first major championship since they participated in the EHF EURO 2014, and their first World Championship berth since 2009. Meanwhile the Czech women will be making their second straight appearance at the tournament they won back in 1957 as Czechoslovakia.
Ukraine vs North Macedonia 31:22 (24:12) - 55:43 on aggregate
After a 24:22 win in Skopje on Saturday, the Ukrainian team had the advantage going into Tuesday's second leg, played in Kisvarda, Hungary. Although Monika Janeska scored first for the Macedonians inside the first minute, Ukraine quickly seized control of the match and held a 12:8 lead before 15 minutes had elapsed. A string of Macedonian mistakes and strong attack efficiency helped Ukraine ease further ahead to a 24:12 half-time advantage, despite a poor goalkeeping performance from both sides.
North Macedonia came out stronger after the break, but the damage had been done and Ukraine were able to cruise to their first major championship qualifying spot in nine years. Macedonian left back Leonida Gichevska was the game's top scorer with 10 goals, while fellow left back Iryna Glibko continued her strong run of form this season with seven for Ukraine.
Czech Republic vs Switzerland 36:27 (17:10) - 68:58 on aggregate
Any hopes Switzerland had of reaching their first-ever World Championship, following a 31:32 defeat in the first leg, were soon dashed by a Czech side who were clearly determined to make no mistakes in Brno. In a match which doubled as a farewell to legendary right wing Jana Knedlikova, watching from the stands, the home team quickly took a 3:0 lead and never looked back. The Swiss side kept fighting but with Markéta Jerábková once again on form, the Czechs had a seven-goal lead at the break.
Goalkeepers Petra Kudlácková and Claire Hartz stood out in the first half as Kudlácková made nine saves (47.4 per cent) and Hartz saved six out of 15 shots (40 per cent). But both saw their efficiency dip after the break and the shot percentages for both teams rocketed. But overall the Czechs were more effective in attack, led by Jerábková who scored nine goals to add to the nine she also netted in the first leg, and contributing six assists in the process. Veronika Mala scored seven times, and centre back Kerstin Kündig netted six for Switzerland.