The qualification for the 2022 World Floorball Championships in Switzerland this November for Europe (and Africa!) had their third day of competition take place in Celano, Italy with the EUR3 groups.
Austria and Cote d’Ivoire kicked off the day of action at 11 local time. After the big German win against Cote d’Ivoire yesterday Austria came in to this match knowing they would need a win with a big score difference to stand a chance of qualifying to the World Championships. They started well with 3 quick goals before a shock equaliser with a great power backhand shot from Serge Tra sneaking past the Austrian goalkeeper. This goal stunned the Austrians who had a bit of trouble adapting to the high pressure, physical play of the Ivorians. They settled into their rhythm however looking to push forward and score as many goals as possible, gaining some momentum with several goals in a short span of time. The breaking point came early in the third when after an Austrian goal, Jean-Marc Atche won the faceoff, dribbled past 1 Austrian defender before slotting it home underneath the goalkeeper to send the crowd wild with a skillful goal worthy of one of the top floorball nations in the world. Austria could not recover their strong momentum from earlier in the match and rounded up winning 28-2, a scoreline that barring an upset would not be enough for 2nd place in the group. Still a strong win that they can take into their final match against Spain for 5th. Cote d’Ivoire face hosts Italy for 7th position.
Slovenia took on Spain with the winner almost guaranteed 2nd place in the group and would keep their qualification hopes alive. The Slovenians fresh off a back and forth match with Italy the night before looked for a quick strong start with clinical forward passes and fast finishing. Spain however had the game plan to control the game and possess the ball for as long as possible, being patient and looking for any opportunities to break down Slovenia. It was Slovenia however who got the breakthrough with two goals in the final minute of the first period to demoralise Spain and set the tone for the rest of the match. A Spanish goal came to make it 4-1 and give some hope but it was quickly snuffed out. Slovenia ended up winning 10-2 in an impressive performance, being in control for most of the match and dictating play. Slovenia now look towards a match with Germany for a place in the 2022 World Championships with Spain taking on Austria for 5th place.
Slovakia faced Germany with the winner qualifying for the World Championships as group winners. This game had a nervy atmosphere to begin with, both teams looking to impose themselves physically on each other and putting their mark on the match. With just after 10 minutes gone, Slovakia got the breakthrough with a well worked team goal and sharp shot that flew by the German goalkeeper. The Slovaks grew as the game went on, building in confidence with every play and goal. Germany worked hard to counter but the shots they had were mostly blocked or saved by the Slovak team. A goal at 5-1 down gave hope but it was short lived, Slovakia building on their star players and fast play style to overload the Germans and run out victors by 8 goals to 2. Special mention must go to the German penalty shot goal by Mark-Oliver Bothe who simultaneously managed to managed to do moves so casual and so complex at the same time to confuse the goalie and convert the penalty shot. Slovakia qualify for the World Championships in Switzerland this November and will face the Czech Republic in the final of the EUR3 event. Germany will face Slovenia, with the winner qualifying for the 2022 World Championships in Switzerland.
The final match of the day was between host country Italy, and the highest ranked team at this EUR3 event, the Czech Republic. The home crowd knowing a major upset was needed to keep Italian hopes of qualifying alive, were loud from the moment the national anthems ended, cheering and blowing horns as loud as possible. The Czechs were undeterred however with Filip Langer reacting first to a loose ball by the Italian goal to poke home the opener. The Czechs built from there and delved into their locker full of quick passes and movement to tire the Italians and look for open shots and opportunities. Pushed on by a loud home crowd however the Italian effort level never dropped and for every minute of the game they were looking for steals and making blocks as much as possible. What could have been a much bigger scoreline ended up being 10-1 to the Czech Republic who qualified for the World Championships in Switzerland this November. The home crowd rose to their feet to salute their home team showing them appreciation and love for the effort displayed against the Czechs. Italy will face Cote d’Ivoire tomorrow for 7th position and both will be looking for their first win of the event.
The final day of matches start at 10:15 with Austria taking on Spain.
For more information on the WFCQ EUR3 qualifying event in Celano, Italy click here.