Not only did losing to Denmark in Budapest eliminate the last theoretical possibility for Croatia to reach the European Handball Championship semifinals, but it almost certainly left Croatia without a direct spot in the next big competition – the World Championships, to be played in Poland and Sweden in January 2023, reports Gol.hr.
In addition to the hosts Poland and Sweden and the current world champion Denmark, Europe will grant at least 12 national teams the chance to participate in the World Champs, three of which will qualify directly as the best at the current Euro held in Hungary and Slovakia, while nine will play in the qualifiers.
Thus, the three best national teams in this European Championship besides Denmark, Poland, and Sweden will qualify for the World Champs, which means that, in case Denmark and Sweden reach the Euro semifinals, then the fifth place will lead to a spot at the World Champs. The national teams that are third in the groups of the second round will play for fifth place, for which Croatia, which is currently at zero points, has a very small chance.
Even if Hrvoje Horvat’s team wins against Iceland and the Netherlands, many other factors would have to coincide again for Croatia to finish third in this group, on Friday, January 28, play the game for fifth place, and only then, if Denmark and Sweden are in semifinals, win direct placement at the World Champs.
A far more realistic scenario is that this will not happen and that Croatia will have to play qualifiers. They will be included in the second round, for which the draw will be held this weekend in Budapest, at the end of the Euro. It is played in two games between April 11 and 17 this year, and the opponent will be some of the national teams that will play the first round between March 14 and 20.
2023 Handball World Cup Qualifiers:
Seeded teams: Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Northern Macedonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine
Unseeded: Belgium, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Israel, Greece, Italy, Romania, Switzerland
Seeded: Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia + six national teams from the European Championship (potentially Croatia)
Unseeded: nine first-round winners
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