Five more teams clinch berths in Round 3
The first weekend of the Men´s EHF Cup Round 2 saw five more teams make it through to the list of the Round 3, the last qualifying hurdle before the Group Phase of the new competition. KIF Kolding from Denmark, HC Motor Zaporozhye from Ukraine, Permskie Medvedi from Russia, Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau from Romania and SL Benfica from Portugal joined fifteen other teams of the Round 3 line-up.
All five qualifiers played both legs of the Round 2 over the last weekend on the home court. The list of 32 teams for Round 3 will be completed next weekend by last twelve outfits.
Although KIF Kolding met more resistance than in their 88-32 aggregate win against London Great Danes in the first round, HC Lovćen Cetinje was no big challenge this weekend, when both Round 2 matches were played in Denmark.
The fact that the Montenegrin champions were considerably stronger than the British title holders was obvious in the beginning of the first match in Copenhagen suburb Glostrup Friday evening. The match was equal for the first quarter of an hour, but from 6:6 Kolding cruised to a 16:10 lead at half-time, and throughout the second half it was only a question of the size of the home win.
At the end KIF won 34:17 with left winger Stefan Hundstrup as their most scoring player with 12 goals. Ivan Perišić scored four for Lovćen.
With a 17 goals cushion the second leg Saturday in Vordingborg south of Copenhagen was really a formality, but still the hall was full. Considering the fact that the matter was already decided, KIF gave some of their substitutes the chance, and the match became much more equal than the Friday game.
Lovćen were even in the lead for parts of the second half, before KIF secured a narrow 32-31 win. The Danes thereby proceed to Round 3 with a 66-48 win on aggregate. This time Kim Andersson and Kasper Irming were most scoring with 10 goals each, while Nemanja Grbović scored 7 for Lovćen.
“We saw that our various defence formations – defensive as well as offensive – function very well, and at the same time we saw that we still have some potential that we need to work on at the other end of the court” KIF´s head coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen told eurohandball.com, as the ticket for Round 3 was booked.
“We let some of our key players rest Saturday, and that was part of the reason, why the second match became more equal than the first one. At the same time, however, Lovćen played a really fine match in spite of their big defeat a night before – respect for that,” Bredsdorff-Larsen added.
"We can only regret that we haven't played one game at home, in Cetinje, especially because our fans could have a chance to see some of the best players in Europe. Also, I am sure that at home we would have provided stronger resistance to Kolding,” said Pero Milošević, whose team made an early exit from the European club competitions after they had failed in the VELUX EHF Champions League qualification last month.
“In the first game my players obviously had too much respect for their first goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt. I am very satisfied how we played a second leg, but it is inexplicable that in the first game we missed 15 easy shoots and three penalties, having also made a lot of technical mistakes.”
Permskie Medvedi survived the four goals home defeat by Switzerland´s Wacker Thun 28:32 thanks to a victory 38:32 a day before. The best scorer of the weekend was Jurij Orlov who netted half of Perm´s goals in the second leg (14) and 22 in total.
Like Lovćen in Montenegro, Loacker Südtirol Team can focus only on the domestic competition in Italy now after national title holders were ousted by Portugal´s SL Benfica. The team from Bolzano lost both matches in Lisbon – 20:32 and 25:40.
Turkish champions from Besiktas JK is also on the brink of elimination, however their seven goals defeat on the court of Romania´s HC Odorhei Secuiesc 40:33 is not totally hopeless for the home rematch in Istanbul. Besiktas will have to deal with the best scorer of first leg Georgian back player Vladimir Rusia (pictured left) who scored 11 goals.
Another Romanian participant from Bacau used the home advantage in both legs to qualify through Swedish side Ystads IF after two wins – 28:24 and 23:22.
Despite this setback Sweden will have one team in the Round 3, since two other sides are involved in all-Swedish clash. IFK Kristianstad is closer to a ticket after they beat Eskilstuna Guilf 24:22 in front of the record crowd of the weekend. More than 3000 spectators cheered after a big comeback of the home team which was losing by seven goals after the break (8:15).
The Slovenian VELUX EHF Champions League Wild Card tournament participant RK Cimos Koper climbed out from the first half hole (12:17) on the court of the Dutch club HV/KRAS Volendam eventually winning 32:31.
In the match between Croatian and Belarusian runners-up RK Nexe Našice were very close to a similar stunt, but they managed only to cut the home defeat to HC Meshkov Brest to one goal difference (30:31) after losing by five at the half-time.
Macedian club HC Vardar PRO-Skopje made an impressive stride to the next round by beating the Czech team HK ASA Město Lovosice 36:19.
Find the results of the of the Men´s EHF Cup Round 2, first leg here
TEXT: Peter Bruun, Saša Jončić / br