The EHF EURO 2018 participants Sweden and Slovenia kept their favourite role in their openers to the 2020 final tournament in Denmark and Norway. Both were clearly victorious against the young Balkan sides from Kosovo and North Macedonia.
- Despite the 23:32 defeat, Kosovo’s Albana Arifi was top scorer of the match with eight goals
- Kosovo still wait for their first victory in the second qualification phase for a Women’s EHF EURO
- After beating North Macedonia twice by 12 goals in the EHF EURO 2018 qualification, Sweden won again
After Germany had beaten Belarus 40:30 in this group’s opening match, the second expected clear victory was taken by the Slovenians. The hosts had a perfect start and led 10:3 after only 15 minutes.
Head coach Uros Brewgar began a huge rotation in his rejuvenated team, knowing that the task on Sunday at Belarus will be much harder.
In the first ever match between these two teams, Slovenia, who were ranked 13th at the EHF EURO 2018, were dominant, but Kosovo stood much stronger than some might have expected. Thanks to Leonora Demaj and Albana Arifi, who both play for Scandinavian clubs (Lugi/SWE and Sonderjyske/DEN), Kosovo managed to keep below a 10-goal margin most of the time. This duo scored 14 of 23 goals for Kosovo.
Jasmina Pisek and Jana Vucko each netted in six times for the hosts, who ultimately had an easy-going evening. But the final result also means a step ahead for Kosovo, who ended the EHF EURO 2018 qualifiers phase with a goal difference average of 22 goals.
Until minute 16 and the score of 9:8, the Macedonians were equal to the challenge brought by Sweden. However, then the hosts started to profit from their physical advantages, their wider bench and their greater international experience.
The Women’s IHF World Championship 2017 semi-finalists managed to pull ahead easily to 15:9, and led 20:13 at half-time. That was the match decided as Macedonia were unable to match Sweden’s power.
It was the ninth victory for Sweden in their 11th duel with the Macedonians, who have not qualified for any Women’s EHF EURO event since 2012. On the way to the EHF EURO 2018, Sweden won both matches by a 12-goal difference.
This time, Macedonia were able to show grit in the final stages and pegged Sweden back to a margin of just nine goals.
The best scorers were Mikaela Mässing (SWE) and Sara Ristovska (MKD) with five goals each.