So, January was a busy month with qualis for the WCh 2021 in Egypt, with some exciting results.
The tournament expands to 32 teams so there's a quota increase for some continents. Here's an overview:
Medalists Norway, Croatia and Spain will join Denmark. The rest of 10 places will be decided over 2 different rounds of playoffs in April and June. The draw will be on January 30 in Vienna.
The 4 semifinalists of the Asian Championship go through. The final is between Qatar and Korea tomorrow. Japan and Bahrain join them as well.
Japan played an excellent tournament, winning against Bahrain (Asian qualifier for Tokyo) and narrowly losing in ET to Korea in the semis, after leading for most of the match. The two finals are tomorrow, but all 4 teams are already through.
A note on Iraq's performance, who narrowly lost to Kuwait (-3) and UAE (-1) in the group stage and missed the MR. It would be great if they would get more competition, since it seems they're making progress: they easily won the 5 matches in the placement round and are are challenging the traditional Asian teams.
With Egypt hosting and due to their good ranking on the last WCh, they will have a total of 7 teams in the next WCh, meaning all but 1 MR teams will be through.
Predictable finals ahead: Egypt-Tunisia for the Olympic spot and Algeria-Angola for the OQT spot. All of them qualified.
What was exiting was the 5-8 tournament, with Cape Verde booking their first ever World Ch. appearance, by finishing 5th!!! They played a roller-coaster match vs. Congo DR and then surprisingly cruised over Morocco in the final for the 5th place!
That means, Cape Verde goes to the WCh for the first time, whereas Morocco returns after 14 years!
The last spot went to another debutant, the winner of today's 7th place match Congo DR, meaning that Gabon narrowly misses on their own debut.
Only a little surprise here, the win of Uruguay over Chile in the opening day, means Uruguay won their first ever handball medal in a major competition and their first qualification to the WCh!
The other spots went to winners of the competition Argentina (25-24 last night over), Brazil and Chile (who seems to have regressed since their astonishing results at the PanAm games last year).
The remaining spots will go to the winner of the North American Championship (April), the 10 European qualifiers and 2(!) IHF wild cards.
Talking about MALE handball in the World
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