Ukraine, Belarus: set for taking the last step
Ukraine and Belarus finished atop in the respective groups in the second round of the men’s qualifications for the 2018 European Championships. Among the women Slovakia finished first to take the best position to book a spot for next July in Barcelona.
Though this time no teams had to bid farewell to the Europeans, the higher they finished this weekend the better chance they might have to earn an entrance ticket to the ‘VIP party’, the European Championships this July in Barcelona. According to the current rules, the top two ranked teams from this round shall meet the bottom ranked ones from the 2016 Europeans.
Ukraine and Belarus won all three matches respectively so they will face either Malta or Turkey. The Belorussians did a clean job, they had 4+ goals wins in Gorzow. Here, in Group B, Israel and host Poland had a huge battle, Israel became the winner as they posted a 0-4 rush in the third after being 6-3 down at half-time and clinched the second place. In Group A, Ukraine went through some tougher moments while overcoming host Portugal but thanks to Maksym Ratkov, who scored 5 goals (just as against Lithuania), the Ukrainians prevailed 11-10.
In the women’s tournament Slovakia and the Czech Republic finished this round with even points after a thrilling 10-10 draw. The Czechs led 4-8 early in the third but the Slovaks netted five straight goals in a span of 4:03 minutes to take a 9-8 lead before the last break. Though the Czechs saved the match to a tie but the better goal-difference put the Slovaks atop. Israel played close games against the top two sides but couldn’t hold on in either ones. Here the bottom ranked team, Malta, bowed out from the qualifications, the top six made the play-offs. However, the higher placed teams have higher hopes to make the big stage.
Qualification Round II, Results
Group A (Rio Maior)
- Ukraine 9, 2. Portugal 6, 3. Lithuania 3, 4. Czech Republic 0
Group B (Gorzow)
- Belarus 9, 2. Israel 6, 3. Poland 1, 4. Switzerland 1
- Slovakia 10 (69-34), 2. Czech Republic 10 (72-44), 3. Israel 12, 4. Ukraine 9, 5. Romania 6, 6. Switzerland 3, 7. Malta 0
The play-offs shall be held with 16 teams: teams from Qualification Round II will meet teams ranked 9-16th at the previous (2016) European Championships. Top seeded sides from QR II will be paired with teams ranked 15-16th from Belgrade 2016, second seeded sides from QR II will be paired with teams ranked 13-14th from Belgrade 2016, and so on. Based on these criteria, the batches will be as follows:
Ukraine / Belarus v Malta / Turkey
Portugal / Israel v Slovakia / Georgia
Lithuania / Poland v Germany / Netherlands
Czech Republic / Switzerland v Romania / France
The six (6) teams classified 7th to 12th in the previous championship shall play against the top 6 teams classified in the Qualification Round II on a home and away basis.
Slovakia v Turkey
Czech Republic v Croatia
Israel v Portugal
Ukraine v Serbia
Romania v Germany
Switzerland v France
Draw for the men’s play off phase and to determine the teams playing first at home in the women’s play off is to be held on 4 November in Budapest (HUN) on the occasion of the LEN Super Cup finals.