MEN’S EHF EURO 2016
17 January 2016
TAURON Arena Krakow
Poland, Serbia, France, Fyr Macedonia
18:15 Serbia vs France
20:30 Fyr Macedonia vs Poland
More information: http://pol2016.ehf-euro.com/home/.
As hosts, Poland did not have to go through the hardship of qualification however, a bronze medal at the World Championship 2015 in Qatar is clear proof of the team’s strength.
Poland enjoyed one of their most successful periods between 2007and 2009, when they came second and third at the respective World Championships. Following a dip in form and performances, German Michael Biegler took over the head coach position from Bogdan Wenta in October 2012.
With World Championship All-Star line player Bartosz Jurecki, three players from 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 bronze medal winner KS Vive Tauron Kielce: goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal, Karol Bielecki and Michal Jurecki, and the home crowd support they can rely on at the EHF EURO, Poland will be a force to reckon with in January.
When France won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, it seemed this success might be the last for the nation’s golden handball generation as long-term key players such as Didier Dinart and Guillaume Gille retired and the team played a disappointing World Championship 2013.
However, the glory days for French handball are far from over. At the EHF EURO 2014 they remained unbeaten and won their third European title in style when they demolished hosts Denmark 41:32 in the final. And it did not stop there – a year later France topped another podium, this time at the World Championship.
The team is led by the outstanding current World Handball Player Nikola Karabatic, but new players such as Valentin Porte, Luka Karabatic and Alix Nyokas have shown they have all the potential it takes to become world-class athletes.
FYR Macedonia’s men’s national team is still all about Kiril Lazarov. The top scorer at the World Championship 2009 and EHF EURO 2012 is the unquestionable heart of the squad. When Lazarov scores, FYR Macedonia are on the upswing; if he fails, they are going down.
Fortunately for the Macedonians Lazarov was once more at his best throughout the qualification. His 56 goals not only made him the top scorer of the stage but also accounted for more than one third of his team’s goals in the qualification, which they finished ranked second in Group 6.
It is a handball-mad nation and the atmosphere at games is always electrifying. Besides Lazarov, the Macedonians’ hopes for the EHF EURO rest on the shoulders of player such as Naumce Mojsovski and Dejan Manaskov.
Serbia have changed coaches four times since winning silver on the home court at the EHF EURO 2012: When the team missed the quarter-finals at the World Championship 2013 Veselin Vukovic was sacked and intermediately replaced by SG Flensburg-Handewitt coach Ljubomir Vranjes.
Vranjes was succeeded by Vlatan Matic, who took over for the EHF EURO 2014 but failed to reach the main round. When an eight-goal advantage was not enough to beat Czech Republic in the World Championship 2015 Play-offs, Matic resigned immediately.
Hence it was up to former world-class goalkeeper Dejan Peric to steer the team through the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Phase. With the prowess of stars such as Marko Vujin and Momir Ilic, Serbia succeeded, placing second in Group 4 to qualify for the final tournament.