Big new names on the benches have their debutArticle
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ROUND PREVIEW: The road to the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 in Denmark and Norway starts today, when the battle for 14 tickets will be opened

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Big new names on the benches have their debut

Seven groups, 28 teams, 14 tickets - this is the constellation prior to the start of the qualification for the Women’s EHF EURO 2020, which for the second time after 2010 will be organized by Denmark and Norway. Having two hosts means that only the winners and runners-ups of the seven qualification groups will book their tickets for the final tournament. Each team has three home and away matches ahead of them until June 2020.

Round 1 of the qualification will see the debut of some big names on the benches, mainly of those teams ranked second to fourth at the EHF EURO 2018: Russia, Netherlands and Romania.


Netherlands vs Austria
Thursday, 19:30 CET, live on

All eyes on are Emmanuel Mayonnade. For the first time in an official match, the new coach takes a seat on the Dutch bench. The Frenchman, who also coached Metz Handball, was appointed in early 2019 and led the EHF EURO 2018 bronze medallists at several friendlies. But the Netherlands did not have to play the World Championship play-offs in June, making Thursday’s game his first official game as Dutch head coach. Mayonnade only selected players from abroad in his squad of 16 for the opener against Austria. Notable absentees will be centre backs Maura Visser and Nycke Groot, who both ended their national team careers.

Opponents Austria know that they are the underdogs. They played - and lost - against Netherlands twice in qualifying for the EHF EURO 2016. They missed qualification for the 2018 event due to a late goal in the Slovenia vs Czech Republic match. This time, coach Herbert Müller has some injury cases in his squad.


Russia vs Slovakia
Wednesday, 18:30 CET, live on

Another debut on the bench: Ambros Martin, also coach of DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League finalists Rostov-Don, will have his premiere for Russia after legendary Evgenii Trefilov had to stop due to injury problems. The Russians aim high in this season, which starts with the EHF EURO Qualifiers opener against Slovakia. They are aiming for the trophy at the World Championship 2019 in Japan and at least the qualification for Tokyo 2020. Ambros knows his squad quite well as he coaches seven of his players also at Rostov. Russia lost twice in the qualification for the EHF EURO 2018 - against Austria and Romania, so now the aim is to pass the way to Denmark and Norway with a clean record.

Slovakia have only qualified once for a Women’s EHF EURO finals tournament - in 2014. They know that rather the matches against Serbia and Switzerland will be the ones to gain some points from.


Croatia vs Iceland
Wednesday, 18:00 CET, live on

Two teams, which were part of several EHF EUROs and World Championships, clash in Osijek. This duel is expected to be crucial for the second position behind defending world and European champions France. Both sides missed qualification for the World Championship in Japan, as Croatia were beaten by Germany and Iceland were defeated by Spain. Croatia have qualified for all EHF EURO events since 2004, while Iceland were part in 2012 for the last time. Both sides are in the middle of a transition, and especially Croatian head coach Nenad Sostaric faces huge changes in his squad, as many experience players quit playing for the national team.

France vs Turkey
Wednesday, 20:00 CET, live on

The 2018 champions start their title defence as huge favourite against Turkey. As the team of Olivier Krumbholz were the hosts of the 2018 event and directly qualified for the World Campionships in 2017 and 2019, their last qualification match was for the EHF EURO 2016. Turkey have failed to qualify for any Women’s EHF EURO event so far, and chances are looking rather slim in a group with France, Croatia and Iceland. On the road to France 2018, the Turkish side took their three points only against Lithuania.

Romania vs Ukraine
Wednesday, 17:30 CET, live on

With the departure of Ambros Martin, who has become coach of Russia, Romania had to search for a successor - and they found him at their top club CSM Bucharest: Swedish Tomas Ryde will have his second stint with Cristina Neagu & Co. after 2015-16, when he steered Romania to the bronze medal at the World Championship in Denmark. With Neagu still in rehab after she tore her ACT at the EHF EURO 2018, her team will have to deal without their super star. Romania showed some impressive performances in the qualification for the 2018 event, highlighted by a victory over Olympic champions Russia, and went all the way to the semi-finals in France, where they ended up in fourth place after a defeat against the Netherlands in the bronze medal match.

Ukraine had their biggest international success in Romania, when they made it to the EHF EURO 2000 final, which they lost against Hungary. After being constant participants at all EURO events from 1996 until 2014, Ukraine failed to qualify for the 2016 and 2018 final tournaments. More or less the duels with Poland will be the decisive ones for the team of head coach Borys Chyzhov.

Remaining Round 1 fixtures:


Spain vs Greece
Thursday, 20:30 CET, live on


Montenegro vs Italy
Wednesday, 18:00 CET, live on

Hungary vs Lithuania
Wednesday, 19:00 CET, live on


Germany vs Belarus
Wednesday, 18:45 CET, live on

Slovenia vs Kosovo
Thursday, 18:00 CET, live on


Serbia vs Switzerland
Wednesday, 18:00 CET, live on


Sweden vs North Macedonia
Thursday, 19:00 CET, live on

Czech Republic vs Portugal
Wednesday, 20:15 CET, live on


Poland vs Faroe Islands
Wednesday, 20:30 CET, live on

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew