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British bid to reach 2012 European Championships ends

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Highlights: GB handball stars bow out

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport at Crystal Palace

Chris Mohr of Great Britain
Britain's Chris Mohr (right) scored 11 of his side's 26 goals

Great Britain's men's handball team can no longer qualify for the 2012 European Championships finals after going down 26-35 against Estonia on Friday.

The defeat at Crystal Palace, GB's second in two days after Cyprus beat them 16-24, means they cannot top their four-team group and progress.

"Today was much better than Thursday. We missed our chance to qualify against Cyprus," said head coach Dragan Djukic.

Britain conclude their group games with a tie against Bulgaria on Saturday.

Knowing a win was vital to preserve any hope of continuing their qualification campaign, Britain fell behind early against Estonia, exchanging goals in the opening moments before slipping to a 5-12 deficit after 10 minutes.

Estonia found British goalkeeper Jesper Parker exposed on the breakaway on several occasions, and showed an inventiveness in front of goal which the fledgling GB side are yet to possess.

Britain's Chris Mohr racked up 11 goals but, having trailed 13-18 at the break, his side slipped to 17-27 before a rally of sorts to end the game nine goals behind.

"There was fighting spirit - I can say I'm happy with our performance and the atmosphere, and all those things are so important," added Djukic.

"We need more games and more experience.

To keep the deficit under double figures is a positive

Ciaran Williams
GB handball player

"There's a long road in front of us but all these steps are important. Sometimes it's painful but there's only one way we can learn and progress."

The British team had never been serious contenders to top the group and thus secure the only qualification place available, but their hunt for a different milestone - a first competitive win on British soil - continues.

"When you play teams of Estonia's quality and you give them a four or five-goal head start, you're always playing catch-up," captain Ciaran Williams told BBC Sport.

"To keep the deficit under double figures, as a team developing like we are and in the hunt for a first home victory, is a positive.

"The talent is there. With each game we grow, we get stronger and we develop."



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see also
GB edge past Belgium in thriller
29 May 10 |  Handball
GB suffer Iceland handball defeat
31 Mar 10 |  Handball
Britain to host Euro qualifiers
01 Feb 10 |  Handball


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