Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournaments: The Final Pieces to the Puzzle

Can Kiril Lazarov and Macedonia qualify for its first Olympics?

This weekend the final 6 slots for the Men’s Olympic Handball Tournament will be awarded.  Three tournaments, each with 4 nations will play a round robin tournament with games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Here’s a breakdown of those tournaments:

All times are Central European Time/ Handicap point spreads for Friday’s matches in parentheses

Tournament 1 (at Alicante, Spain)

Friday 6 April
17:30: Poland (-7) vs. Algeria
20:15: Spain (-4) vs. Serbia

Saturday 7 April:
17:30: Serbia vs. Poland
20:15: Algeria vs. Spain

Sunday 8 April:
17:30: Serbia vs. Algeria
20:15: Spain vs. Poland

Host Spain is the clear favorite to advance and is a pretty good bet to win all 3 of their matches.  Algeria is the outsider team and will probably lose all 3 of their matches.  This means Saturday’s Serbia-Poland match could very well decide who will advance. The two teams met in January at the European Championships with Serbia winning 22-18.  But that match was in Belgrade, Alicante should provide a neutral setting.

Tournament 2 (at Gothenburg, Sweden)

Friday 6 April:
14:45: Hungary (-1.5) vs. FYR Macedonia
17:00: Sweden (-10.5) vs. Brazil

Saturday 7 April:
13:45: Brazil vs. Hungary
16:00: FYR Macedonia vs. Sweden

Sunday 8 April:
14:45: Brazil vs. FYR Macedonia
17:00: Sweden vs. Hungary

Host Sweden is the favorite, but they struggled in January at the European Championships enroute to a disappointing 12th place finish.  During Group play Macedonia and Sweden drew 26-26 on the first day of play, a performance that was an early indication of how nearby Macedonia would ride their pseudo home court advantage in Serbia to a 5th place showing and a slot in this qualification tournament.  The other European side Hungary placed 8th in Serbia and will also be looking to advance.  Brazil, the Pan American entrant will likely lose all three of their matches, so it will likely come down to head to head performance amongst the 3 European sides.  With Sweden a slight favorite, the Hungary-Macedonia match on Friday afternoon could be the big decider in terms of 2nd place and who ends up in London.

Tournament 3 (at Varazdin, Croatia)

Friday 6 April:
18:00: Croatia (-9) vs. Japan
20:15: Iceland (-14.5) vs. Chile

Saturday 7 April:
16:00: Chile vs. Croatia
18:15: Japan vs. Iceland

Sunday 8 April:
15:30: Japan vs. Chile
18:00: Croatia vs. Iceland

Barring a huge surprise from either Japan or Chile it’s all but preordained that Croatia and Iceland will advance.

(Editor’s note: If you find an internet video feed for these matches be sure to post the link at our Facebook page)