Czech Republic – Iceland, match of Group 3 qualification for advancing to the 2024 European Handball Championship, March 8, Brno. From left, Viggo Kristjánsson from Iceland, Jakub Hrstka from the Czech Republic, Björgvin Páll Gústavsson from Iceland.
Reykjavík – The Czech handball players lost 19:28 in Iceland in the fourth of six European Championship qualification matches. After the first three victories in the four-man group, the national team lost points for the first time and is still not sure of progressing to the championship. The Czechs did not follow up on Wednesday's home victory over the Nordic favorite and in the rematch in Reykjavík they were chasing almost the entire time.
The Czech team, to which the recovered Spanish coach Xavier Sabaté managed to return after a short hospitalization on the eve of today's match, fell to second place in the group table by a score behind Iceland. The national team has a lead of four points over the other two opponents, Estonia and Israel, against whom they will complete the qualification at the end of April.
Two teams from each four-member group will advance to next year's championship in Germany, and they will be joined by the four best teams from the third places. Since Wednesday, the Czech team has been almost certain that it will at least fit among those advancing from the third place.
On Wednesday, Sabaté's men surprised Iceland, who, unlike them, started at the World Cup in January, with a 22:17 win, but in the away rematch they were no longer enough to beat the high favourites. The guests took a slight deficit from the start and made up for it. In the middle of the first half, Reichl still managed to equalize at 8:8 and in the 25th minute Kašpárek reduced the difference to one goal, but before the break the Icelanders took control and created a 15:12 lead.
After the change of sides, the sixth team from the last Euro already had the game firmly in their hands. In the 42nd minute, Valencia sent the home team into a six-goal lead for the first time, and it was clear that the Czechs would no longer have the strength to dramatize the match. In the end, the Icelanders won by almost a double-digit difference and gained the certainty that in the event of a tie on points, Sabaté's selection would finish higher in the group thanks to a better mutual balance.
The Czechs are still very close to progressing. They will start the penultimate match of the qualifiers on April 27 in Estonia and close the group at home against Israel three days later. They will be clear favorites in both duels after their opening wins in October.
The Czech national team has made it to seven of the last eight European Championships, most recently at the final tournament last January in Bratislava, where they did not advance from the basic group. The championship in Germany will take place from January 10 to 28 next year.
Group 3 qualification match for the European Championship:
Iceland – Czech Republic 28:19 (15:12)< /h4>
Czech Republic line-up and goals: Mrkva, Mizera – Hrstka 4/4, Piroch 2, J. Patzel, Štěrba 2, Kašpárek 2, Reichl 1, Vančo 1, Havran, Harabiš, Klíma 5, V. Patzel, Solák 2, Zeman, Režnický.
Most Iceland goals: Kristjánsson 6. Referees: Biro, Kiss (both Hungarian). Seven-meter throws: 4/3 – 5/4. Exclusion: 2:4. Spectators: 2500 (sold out).
Israel – Estonia 29:27 (15:13).
|3 .||Estonia||4||1||0||3||105: 125||2|