15.02.2013, 06:20
Men´s Challenge Cup Last 16, first leg preview

From Norway to Cyprus, from Lithuania to Italy – Last 16 schedule covers the whole Europe

Men´s Challenge Cup Last 16, first leg preview

It will really be an event that covers all Europe, when the Challenge Cup resumes this weekend. Teams from Norway to Cyprus and from Belarus to Italy wil be competing in the first leg of the round of the last 16 this weekend. Only in case
of the match Klaipeda “Dragunas” vs Radnički Kragujevac both legs will be played next weekend (23 and 24 February).

Before the first leg in Drammenshallent against HC Izviđač Ljubuški the coach of Drammen Geir Oustorp admits to know very little about Bosnian opponents, as it has been hard to get material. “However, it will be extra important to get a good result at home, as playing in Bosnia is always difficult,” he said.

In the match B. B. Ankara Spor vs. A. C. Doukas the stage is set for a real drama between teams from neighbouring countries, as Turkish handball´s hope in the tournament, Ankara Spor take on one of the two Greek representatives in the competition. There is no doubt that Ankara are in for a bigger challenge than in the previous round, when they defeated Bulgarian Spartak Varna with 21 goals on aggregate.

Handball Esch from Luxembourg are among the last 16 for the first time in any European competition. However, after having eliminated KH Prishtina from Kosovo clearly in Round 3, they will probably not have to regard themselves as favourites against the Serbia´s Spartak Vojput who are only entering the tournament at this stage.

Belgium´s Initia Hasselt were convincing in Round 3, when they eliminated RK Sutjeska from Montenegro with a total of 19 goals, and being among the last 16 is seen as historical in the club. However, they will undoubtedly have their work cut out for them against Azoty-Pulawy from Poland who are making their first entry in the tournament.

Runar IL did not have to work hard to reach the round of 16, as they qualified without playing against HC Ovce Pole from FYR  Macedonia in the previous round, but even though they will have to do more this time, the current number two in the Norwegian league will probably still be favourites against the Greeks who had their finest achievement in the 2009/10 season, when they reached the EHF Champions League Group Phase.

C. S. U. Suceava have fine traditions in the Challenge Cup, in which they reached the final in 2009, and where they have reached the quarter-finals in 2010 as well as last year. They may very well do so again, as they appear as favourites against Strovolos from Cyprus who defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv with eight goals on aggregate in the previous round, but who seem to be up against considerably tougher resistance this time.

SKA Minsk did not have much trouble qualifying for this round, defeating the Estonians from Pölva Serviti with 17 goals on aggregate in the third round. However, the Belarusians may have to sweat more in order to get an over all win against Italian Pallamano Pressano who play their first match in the tournament this season when visiting Minsk Saturday.

Further information
Follow the results of the Men´s Challenge Cup Last 16 matches here

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br

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