One step away from playoffs for Worlds

The men’s national handball team is a step away from the playoff stage for a berth at next year’s World Championships following a 33-20 victory over the Netherlands in Thessaloniki last night. Greece, which has won all three of its group games, against Turkey – twice – and the Netherlands, will earn top spot in its group and a playoff berth with either a victory, draw or defeat by less than 13 points when it is hosted by the Dutch in Sunday’s last game. «We’re looking ahead and want to continue with the good results,» said team captain Savvas Karypidis. «We need to show character throughout the game to achieve a good result.» Greece, which had ended a respectable sixth at the 2004 Athens Olympics and Worlds a year later, was set back in European qualifiers early last year. That campaign’s failure confirmed fears that the team was ailing as a result of player transfers to major European clubs in countries such as Germany, Spain and Switzerland.