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Date: 12/28/2018

Coach: Patrekur Johannesson


Key players: Nikola Bilyk (Left back), Robert Weber (Right wing)


Qualification information: Winner of European play-off versus Belarus


History in tournament: 1938: 2nd, 1954: DNQ, 1958: 9th-12th, 1961-1990: DNQ, 1993: 14th, 1995-2009: DNQ, 2011: 18th, 2013: DNQ, 2015: 13th, 2017: DNQ


Austria are a team on the rise in men’s handball, arriving in Denmark for the 26th World Championship for what is their sixth participation in the event. In 2017, the team qualified for their second European championship, hinting that they may be making more regular appearances at major international tournaments than in the past.


Following their silver medal at the very first handball World Championship in 1938, Austria have not only ranked outside the top teams but have had little luck qualifying for major events. From 1954 to 2009, Austria qualified for the World Championship only twice, but the last decade has brought more success. Since 2011, they have secured three World Championship berths (2011, 2015 and 2019) and their first qualifications for the EURO (2014 and 2018). Now, the squad are looking into the future with optimism – thanks in particular to some bright young prospects coming through the ranks.


21-year-old Nikola Bilyk is a well-established star despite his young age. He was recruited by top German side THW Kiel in 2016 and has already played more than 50 matches for the national team. At the EURO 2018, Bilyk was Austria’s top scorer with 19 goals in three matches played. The left back will not only be a key player at Germany/Denmark 2019, but well into the future.


To qualify for the 2019 World Championship, Austria won their two-leg European qualification play-off against Belarus with a 59:54 aggregate score (28:28, 31:26). The result was quite an upset considering Belarus’ stronger record in recent years and the fact that they won in the mutual EURO 2018 encounter. Therefore, Austria will travel to Herning for their group C encounters with confidence.


“It’s great what we have achieved, because we couldn’t take the victory in the play-off against Belarus for granted. I was very satisfied with the team in those two games. Compared to the match against the Belarusians at the European championship six months before, that was an enormous improvement in quality,” says coach Patrekur Johannesson.


In group C, Austria will meet World Championship co-hosts Denmark, 2017 World Championship silver medallists Norway, Saudi Arabia and Chile. Their group phase campaign will conclude with an interesting encounter for Bilyk – Austria will take on Tunisia, the country where Bilyk was born, when his father was playing as a goalkeeper for Esperance Sportive de Tunis. 


“We go to Herning to get to the top three of the group. That’s what we have to focus on now. The favourites in our group are Denmark and Norway. Saudi Arabia plays unpredictable handball,” says Johannesson, while Bilyk comments on the importance of the experience and the team’s goals at GER/DEN 2019:


“The experience to be part of a World Championship tournament in two of the handball most enthusiastic countries in the world is great – for me personally, but also for our entire team. We were drawn into a group where we have the chance to go beyond the preliminary round, like in 2015. That is our hope and our dream.”


Fans can follow Austria on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


Group at Germany/Denmark 2019
Group C: Austria, Denmark, Norway, Tunisia, Chile, Saudi Arabia


Games at Germany/Denmark 2019

All times local


Friday 11 January            Saudi Arabia vs Austria (18:00)
Saturday 12 January       Austria vs Chile (15:00)
Monday 14 January        Norway vs Austria (17:30)
Tuesday 15 January        Austria vs Denmark (20:45)
Thursday 17 January       Austria vs Tunisia (17:30)

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Photo: Austrian Handball Federation