With the Main Round now over, the dust has settled a little on the Olympic Qualifications Tournaments
[b]#2 and #3 for Europe:[/b] As Russia, France, Germany and Hungary are all guaranteed to place somewhere between 1st to 7th, Sweden is locked into the 2nd place Europe spot. The 3rd place slot will boil down to whether Croatia wins the 9th place game (and secures the 7th place WC slot). If Croatia wins, Poland will take the 3rd place Europe slot. If Croatia loses, Croatia will take the 3rd place Europe slot.
[b]#2 and #3 for Asia:[/b] Thanks to South Korea squeaking into the quarterfinals, Japan is now bumped up to the #2 Asia slot and will play in Tournament 2. Qatar moves up to #3.
[b]#1, #2 and #3 for Africa: [/b] The African Championships will be played next month, and based on their performance at the World Championships its hard to imagine that the host, Angola, won’t take the title and the automatic spot in the Olympics. Tunisia and Congo will be the favorites for 2nd and 3rd.
[b]Ranking the Continents: [/b] With Brazil’s failure to qualify for the Main Round the PATHF finished 4th among the continents. This leaves the favored Europeans along with Angola representing Africa and South Korea representing Asia. The Angolans and South Koreans could win it all, but for now I’ll pencil in Europe as the #1 Continent. This means that the 2nd best continent will be determined by which nation places higher, South Korea or Angola. Should South Korea place higher then Angola, lightly regarded Qatar would be placed in tournament 1. If Angola places higher, Congo or Tunisia are the two African nations that will likely finish 2nd or 3rd in the African Championship.
[b]9th Place Equals 7th Place and that Game Will be Pivotal for Spain, Croatia and Poland: [/b] Norway has already qualified, so they won’t count in the standings, and Angola will be very heavily favored to win the African Championships, so they, in all likelihood, won’t count either. This means that the 9th place game between Spain and Croatia should secure the 7th place WC spot. For Spain this is their only chance to qualify, so this is a must win situation. For Croatia, they’ve already probably qualified for Tournament 2 as the #3 European team, but they would probably prefer the competition in Tournament 1. Both Tournaments 1 and 2 will be hosted by a top team (Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea), but 2nd place at Tournament 1 will be easier and likely come down to beating Sweden on a neutral floor. Whereas Tournament 2 will require beating another team from that same top team grouping of Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea. And watching all of this will be Poland, who can only qualify with a Croatian victory.
[b]Looking Ahead: The Battle for Bronze?:[/b] As previously mentioned, this game might be worth losing, but it’s still impossible to predict. As Norway, Angola, and possibly Russia won’t count in the standings it’s hard to say which placing game will actually be for 3rd or 4th place
[b]Current Possibilities (Assumes Angola wins African Championships)[/b]
[b]Tournament 1: [/b]
2nd Place WC (Host) (Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea)
7th Place WC Croatia or Spain
2nd Place Europe: [b]Sweden[/b]
2nd Place PATHF: [b]Cuba[/b]
[b]Tournament 2: [/b]
3rd Place WC (Host) (Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea)
6th Place WC (Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea)
2nd Place Africa: TBD in January (likely either Congo or Tunisia)
3rd Place from the Continental Championship for the best Continent at WC (Croatia or Poland)
[b]Tournament 3: [/b]
4th Place WC (Host) (Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea)
5th Place WC (Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or South Korea)
2nd Place Asia: [b]Japan[/b]
3rd Place from the Continental Championship for the 2nd best Continent at WC (likely either Congo, Tunisia or Qatar)
As you can see, there are still a lot of variables. After each day’s games it will become a little clearer. We’ll continue to update the narrowing possibilities at this link: http://teamhandballnews.com/page18.html