The Estonian men's national handball team will host Austria for a 2022 European Championship qualification group stage match in Kalev sports hall in Tallinn. The match will begin at 7.20 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ETV2, ERR's sports portal, also available here.
The previous meeting between the two teams in November ended with Austria taking a 31:28 (16:16) victory. Estonia played well in the first match-up and did not let Austria get off to a big lead. Karl Toom scored 11 goals for Estonia, 130-kg Tobias Wagner was the high point man for Austria with seven goals in November.
"It has been some time since our previous meeting, but we have analyzed it, of course. It is very important to the players that we have already met once. But it is still more useful to see how Austria played Bosnia and Herzegovina in March (Austria lost 27:21 - ed)," said Estonian national team head coach Thomas Sivertsson.
Estonia has two matches left in their second qualification phase. The national team will face off against Austria on April 29 in Tallinn and will head to Germany for a match on May 2.
Before the final two rounds, Germany holds eight points for first place in the group, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina with four points. Austria and Estonia are tied for third place at two points, but Austria holds an aggregate advantage of three goals from November. Estonia also won the match-up against Bosnia and Herzegovina by a last-second aggregate goal.
The two teams leading the group table will advance to the final European championship tournament with the third-place finisher going into a pool of the best third-place teams from the group stage.
Therefore, Estonia's advancement in the tournament largely depends on defeating Austria, who will next face off against Bosnia themselves. An Austrian win over Bosnia would give Estonia a chance for direct qualification for the final tournament.
Estonian left-back Mait Patrail, who just joined the team from his German top-flight Rhein-Neckar Löwen, said the match against Austria means a lot to the players. "The Estonian national team has never been able to advance. We have a good opportunity this time. It will not be behind us. Others must play for us as well for us to advance, if we were to take this match. We do not need to overthink and should just play care-free ball. Once you overthink, it is never a good sign," Patrail said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste