The Great Britain men’s senior handball team are set to play their first competitive matches in over two years as they get ready to appear in the International Handball Federation’s 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship – Qualification Europe Phase 1 in Finland from 5-7 November.
Great Britain have been drawn into group 2, where they will face Finland, Estonia and Georgia at the Energia Areena in Vantaa, 20km north of Finland’s capital, Helsinki
All four teams will play each other once in a group format, with the top two teams qualifying through to Qualification Europe Phase 2, Part 1. The 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship will be hosted by Sweden and Poland in January 2023.
Great Britain’s senior men last met Georgia in the semi-final of the 2019 IHF Men’s Emerging Nations tournament, when they lost 21:28. Two years earlier they lost 26:34 at the 2017 IHF/EHF Men’s Challenge Trophy in Bulgaria.
Their last meeting with Estonia was at the same championship, in 2015, when they won 28:27, four years after losing to them 19:36 in a friendly and five years after losing by 10 (25:35) in a 2010 EHF Men’s European Championship qualifier, the same year GB last met Finland, when they lost 21:35 in a 2011 IHF Men’s World Championship qualification game at the same venue.
A tough challenge
The competition represents a welcome return to competitive action for the British men, following the postponement and cancellation of many other matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, GB will start as underdogs in Finland, with their group opponents ranked much higher than them and who have all managed to maintain competitive activity during the past 18 months in contrast to Great Britain, who have been unable to train or play matches due to sports halls being closed and strict UK Government guidelines relating to restrictions on training and playing sport at home and travelling abroad.
Great Britain Men’s Senior Team Head Coach Ricardo Vasconcelos said:
“The Qualification Phase 1 tournament comes earlier than we hoped, but it is about much more than just qualifying for us.
“We feel it is important to get the men’s team competing again as we look ahead to key events in 2023, including the Euro 2026 qualifiers and IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship. Finland will be valuable experience for our young team.”
This will be GB’s first participation in an IHF World Championship qualifier in almost 10 years and has been made possible after British Handball recently secured UK Sport funding for the first time since 2012.
(All times local)
Friday 5 November
1900 Georgia vs Great Britain
Saturday 6 November
15.00 Great Britain vs Finland
Sunday 7 November
15.00 Estonia vs Great Britain