Nantes secure at least quarter-final spot – or maybe more, by beating Bacau
Löwen group winners as Kolding fail
After SC Magdeburg on Saturday, the next group winners and quarter-finalists of the Men’s EHF Cup were confirmed on Sunday: After beating Prešov the day before, Rhein Neckar Löwen took the profit of the sensational Kolding home defeat against Ukrainian side HC Motor Zaporozhye. Due to this result, Kolding cannot get ahead of the Germans anymore, as they lost the direct encounter.
Additionally HBC Nantes, host of the EHF Cup Finals 18/19 May, secured their second rank in Group B by beating Bacau. Whether the French team will skip the quarter-finals and qualify directly for the EHF Cup Finals will be decided in the last round of the group phase next weekend.
If Nantes are among the three best second ranked teams, they directly make it to the final tournament, and only three quarter-finals will be played – for which the four group winners and the two best second ranked teams qualify. If Nantes are number four of the second ranked teams, they have to play the knock-out matches - in this case four quarter-finals will be played.
KIF Kolding gave the great chance from their hands to secure the second rank early and to make a huge step towards the quarter-finals by losing against Zaporozhye. But in the optimum case this defeat has no significance for the Danes, as for the “ranking for the second ranked teams” only those results against the first and the third ranked teams are taken into consideration. So a victory in their final encounter at Prešov might be the ticket for the quarter-finals still.
Hit hard by injuries – Joachim Boldsen, Frederik Börm and Lasse Boesen were out for this match – KIF did not find their rhythm against the Ukrainians, who showed their strongest performance by now in this competition and well-deserved took their first points led by brilliant Sergii Burka, who scored incredible 13 times.
Zaporozhye were in lead most of the time, including the halftime result of 14:13. Kolding found back into the match and equalized at 23:23 eight minutes before the end. As the Ukrainians forged ahead to 25:23, Kolding missed too many chances to be able to equalize again. Best KIF scorer was Bo Spellerberg with nine goals.
“It was a mental blockade, but this defeat is not decisive,” said KIF goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt to Danish TV DR. Kolding had beaten Presov 37:17 in the first leg and are supposed to be the favourite in Slovakia too.
HBC Nantes have made it to the next stage by an easy-going victory against Bacau on home ground. By seven points now, the French team (ranked second) cannot be overtaken by the Romanians or Besiktas Istanbul in the final round.
Currently Nantes have 5:3 points on their account in their results against the first ranked (Magdeburg) and third ranked team (Bacau) after they had won the first leg at Romania much closer by 21:18.
The victory was never endangered, top scorer was Valero Rivera by eight goals, Marius Bondar scored six times for Bacau.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
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