The Group Phase of the new EHF Cup is a new desired destination of 13 teams from the VELUX EHF Champions League
Fresh pain remains, but new focus arrives
The Qualification round of the VELUX EHF Champions League last weekend saw more losers than winners, but not all 13 teams which have to settle for the new EHF Cup now experienced the same pain. Despite the fact all groups had their clear favourites, some eliminated clubs had higher expectations and some just let their chance slip through the fingers.
Especially for the French club St. Raphaël it had to be very difficult to swallow the defeat. In the final of the Wild Card Tournament they were clear underdogs against HSV Hamburg, however, they were very close to a sensational win leading 26:22 after 55 minutes. But in the final part of the match the German team rallied to equalize before the buzzer and finally won after extra-time.
"We got frightened by this chance to win the match. We were four goals ahead and it should have been enough. It is not possible to lose a match like that, we really deserved to win," left winger Raphaël Caucheteux was quoted as saying to Ma Chaine Sport.
On the way to the final Hamburg had to jump over a tricky hurdle. The Polish runner-up and the participant of the previous edition of the VELUX EHF Champions League from Płock bolstered the team with some international signings and dreamed about the return to the European elite.
“The match was decided in a span of several minutes when we could not score for a while and Hamburg built up a three goals lead. We wanted to get back to the match, but against the team like them it is very difficult,” the Płock line player Muhamed Toromanović said to the official club website.
The victory against last season quarter-finalists RK Cimos Koper was a precious remedy before Plock´s future campaign in the EHF Cup.
“After we lost against Hamburg our self-confidence was in tatters, therefore this success was very important for us. We will do our best to reach the top of the EHF Cup now,” he added.
Tatran Prešov is heading to the same destination as St. Raphaël and Płock – Round 3 of the EHF Cup, but their original intention was different. After the Slovakian champions had surprisingly failed as a host of the qualification tournament last year they planned a return to the continental top-flight in the tournament in Constanta (ROU). Even despite the bad memories they had from their former encounter against the Romanian champion. Four seasons ago after winning the first leg of the Last 16 match by eight goals they lost the second leg by 11 goals.
But at the very beginning they lost a line player Tomáš Mažár due to the injury and yet again they crumbled on the same court. “It is difficult to express how we feel right now. Obviously we are very disappointed. We lost the final in the first half. We were shooting from ill-prepared positions,” assistant coach Ivan Pompoš was quoted by domestic media. "At the moment we are very sad and we hardly can think about the EHF Cup. But we have to learn our lesson of this tournament very quickly and get ready for new challenges,” he added.
All 13 unsuccessful teams have to regroup soon and five of them even sooner, since the last place finishers (RK Lovćen/MNE, Dinamo Poltava/UKR, SSV Loacher Bozen Südtirol/ITA and RK Cimos Koper/SLO) and the loser of the qualification match (Besiktas JK/TUR) will enter the Round 2. The first leg will be played on 13/14 October, the second leg one week later.
Find more information on the 2012/13 Men’s EHF Cup HERE.
TEXT: Nicolas Ercolano
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