The qualification for 2014’s men’s championship in Denmark is still ongoing but for some countries the journey to 2016 in Poland is already at an end. Two of those countries are Great Britain and Ireland who both played their final matches in the process yesterday.
Ireland lost 36:12 in Belgium to finish bottom of the group that also features Estonia. Belgium must win by eight or more goals away in Estonia on Sunday to take the only qualifying spot in the group – any other result sees Estonia qualify for Stage 2. Like Ireland, Great Britain end with four losses but they can take some heart from turning around some very heavy defeats. Their first game (against Greece) saw them go down by 29 goals – this time out in Italy it was an 11 goal margin but was closer than that until very near the end. Steven Larsson top-scored in the match with 8 goals. Like Belgium, Italy now need to win away, this time by seven goals over Greece if they and not the Greeks are to progress.
Already through to the next stage are Finland who can use their last game, at home to Cyprus, to chillax and ponder the big guns waiting for them in stage 2.
The qualification process for the 2016 Men’s European Championship begins, remarkably, in 2012. The long march to Poland begins before the 2014 version of the championship has even been held. Qualification takes place over two phases and the first phase includes 9 countries spread over three groups. The winners of each group qualify for phase 2. For the rest, it’s BFH time.
Great Britain have been drawn with Italy and Greece. They will play Greece away on either 31 October or 1 November and Italy away 12/13 June 2013. Sandwiched in between they have two home games against the same opponents to be held on either 3/4 April and either 6/7 April. Venues, dates, prices etc to be determined.
This will be the second successive qualification run in which the British have played Greece and Italy: the 2014 Euro qualifiers were also held this year. In June in fact. In a three-match tournament in Italy Britain lost 35-30 to Greece and 29-26 to Italy. It was only the fourth team in the group, Switzerland, who actually progressed to phase 2 qualification.