Portugal, Kosovo and Greece secure passage to the next phase
Portugal confirmed their spot in the next phase of qualification for the 2023 IHF Women's World Championship after two straightforward wins over Azerbaijan. In a thrilling finish, Greece's Panagiota Argiropoulou crushed all Bosnia and Herzegovina's dreams just as Kosovo did to the Faroe Islands. In the first of the doubleheaders, Iceland and Türkiye secured big wins.
First leg: 21:23. Greece win 44:43 on aggregate
Bosnia Herzegovina did not manage to turn things around in the second match of the doubleheader this weekend. After losing the first match narrowly (21:23), they won the second duel by only one goal and lost the chance to progress further. It was a tied game for the first 15 minutes before Bosnia and Herzegovina went on a five-goal run thanks to an inspirational Marija Gudelj. It looked like a done deal but Greece made a comeback in the second half, narrowing the gap to only 21:19, five minutes before the end. In a nail-biting finish, Panagiota Argiropoulou was Greece's hero, equalling the scores at 21:21 with two goals in a row, allowing her team to celebrate their place in the next stage of qualification despite the defeat.
First leg: 27:24. Kosovo win 55:53 on aggregate
After a good performance on Thursday in Istog, winning by three and creating history, Kosovo were close to repeating it on Saturday. Kosovo had a minimal lead throughout the match and Faroe Islands were giving their maximum in an effort to turn things around. The real drama started in the 54th minute as Súna Krossteig Hansen and Maria Halsdottir Weyhe managed to do exactly that, the latter scoring to make it 29:27. Faroe Islands even had the chance to try to score an equaliser but Paschke Marku stole the ball and set the final score. Before this match-up, Kosovo had never won a game in the qualification phase for the IHF Women's World Championship and now they are in the next round with Leonora Demaj as the round's top scorer.
First leg: 32:19. Portugal won 68:31 on aggregate
Azerbaijan will not remember their trip to Paredes, Portugal very fondly. They lost both matches by a significant number, having only 11 players in the squad. Portugal once again gave a chance to every player in the squad and the spotlight was on the three goalkeepers: Jessica Ferreira, Matilde Rosa and Isabel Góis - with 67%, 40% and 40% save efficiency respectively. At half-time, the result was almost the same as in the first game, meaning Azerbaijan's attack efficiency was at a low 21%. The game flow remained the same until the final buzzer. Portugal won their seventh match in the qualification phase for the IHF Women's World Championship and got themselves a place in qualification round 2.
Both matches of this qualification tie are being played in Hafnarfjordur over two days. In the first match, Israel could not keep up with Iceland for longer than 15 minutes. A strong performance by Þórey Stefánsdóttir on the right wing made Israel miserable in crucial parts of the game as she helped her team to open a six-goal lead. In a way, it was decisive for the end result. Sandra Erlingsdottir took advantage of all the mistakes in Israel's defence, netting 11 times. Iceland had a strong outing and are waiting for the rematch with high hopes. The only bright side for Israel was their shot efficiency from the wing as Mor Shaul scored 11 times. Hafnarfjordur will see both sides again on Sunday, 06 November at 16:00 CET.
Türkiye are one step closer to going further in qualification. Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK star Nurceren Akgün Göktepe took the team to a seven-goal lead after netting three times and stealing two balls. The gap between them got wider with each passing minute. Only Lucy Thornewell was able to score more than two times in the first half for Great Britain. The second part of the match did not bring any changes as the Turkish side was building up their advantage with 13 out of 14 players scoring at least once. The second leg is scheduled for Saturday, 06 November at 18:00 CET.