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28.10.2016, 21:00
Vardar and FTC hope to strengthen their position
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GROUP B PREVIEW: HC Vardar look to show their power in Astrakhan, while HC Lepzig hope to earn their first points in the competition
 

Vardar and FTC hope to strengthen their position

Having split the points in the Round 1, the Group B favourites HC Vardar and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria went on to obtain victories in the following round.

Now the Macedonian champions will try to retain their top position in the group in Astrakhan, while FTC's goal is to grab two points from the outsider HC Leipzig.

  • HC Vardar and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria currently top the group with three points
  • HC Leipzig are yet to earn their first points in the competition
  • FTC's Nerea Pena is currently the group's top scorer with 15 goals, followed by her teammate Aniko Kovacsics and Vardar's Andrea Penezic who have both scored 14 times

GROUP B

Astrakhanochka (RUS) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday, 29 October, 17:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

As it often happens, the change of a coach had an immediate effect on HC Vardar. Under the caretaker coach Ace Stankovski, who had replaced Indira Kastratovic early in the previous week, the highly motivated Macedonian side had an impressive performance against HC Leipzig and clinched an emphatic victory, with as many as six Vardar's players scoring at least five goals.

The hot seat in Skopje is still empty as Stankovski prepares the team for the match in Astrakhan with the assistance of two Russians - the club owner Sergey Samsonenko and the sports director Eduard Koksharov. Obviously the game in their home country is going to be special for both of them.

The same can be said about Dziyana Ilyina, the 20-year-old Belarusian playmaker who defended the colours of Astrakhanochka in the 2014/15 season and now plays in Skopje.

It could have been also special for Inna Suslina, Vardar's Russian goalkeeper, but she is ruled out for the game due to a knee injury.

Earlier this week, the 37-year-old had an operation and will miss six to eight weeks.

Astrakhanochka had a good game in Round 1 against Leipzig, but they did not have enough quality to take points in the following round in Hungary as FTC were just too strong for the inexperienced Russian champions.

On Wendesday, the Astrakhan team won a game of the Russian league against AGU-ADYIF Maikop (39:19). The captain Liudmila Postnova was rested in this game, so that she could prepare better for the game against Vardar.


FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs HC Leipzig (GER)
Saturday, 29 October, 17:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

So far, FTC supporters have every reason to be happy with their team's performance in the EHF Champions League.

The draw in Skopje on the opening day was quite a flattering result for the Hungarian runner-up, even if they missed a chance to clinch a victory in the dying seconds.

A week later, the team lived up to expectations again, getting two points as planned in a clash with the debutant Astrakhanohka.

So now they take the second place in the group and are behind Vardar only on goal difference.

"We had a difficult period, but we managed to get out of the pit. I believe that the team are on the right track," FTC head coach Gabor Elek told the club's official website.

This was confirmed on Wednesday as FTC won a Hungarian league game against Alba Fehervar KC 31:27.

HC Leipzig are scheduled to play their first three group games on the road, and only later they will play on home court.

Voyages to Astrakhan and Skopje were unlucky for the German team as both times they came back with empty hands.

Especially the loss in Skopje was devastating as the score 41:24 suggests.

It will hardly be any easier in Dabas, yet Leipzig travel to Hungary hoping to learn their lesson and get a positive result.

Their morale may be boosted after getting their first victory in five competitive games on Wednesday.

In the German Bundesliga, Leipzig smashed Celle 33:19 and now they occupy the 5th place in the domestic tournament with six points after five games.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / bc
 
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