And then there were 16 … and no Germany. Qualifying for Euro 2014 sorted.
There will be something a little unusual about the 11th Men’s European Handball Championship. There will be no Germany. The three-time World Champions and 2004 European winners finished third in their qualifying group and so will not be making the short hop over to Denmark. Sixteen of their fellow continentals did make it though (if we include Iceland as being ‘continental’) although Denmark had already done the decent thing and qualified as hosts and champions.
There was a bit of last-day drama: in the last game of the process Macedonia beat Portugal and so leapfrogged over their Iberian guests; Austria had an emotional win over Russia but they both qualified anyway with Russia taking the only ‘best loser’ slot; Belarus won in Slovenia to snuff out the latter’s chances of taking their place.
The final list therefore looks like this: Denmark, France, Spain, Iceland, Sweden, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Austria, Russia and Macedonia. There are no teams making their first appearance but it is the first time Austria have qualified – their only previous appearance was when they were hosts.
The tournament will start on 14 January next year – about three weeks after the Women’s World Championship finishes in Serbia. There is likely to be exceptionally good coverage via ehftv who do these things very well indeed.