PREVIEW: The first of the European Cups throws off over the upcoming weekend as Men's EHF Cup starts with the first qualifying round.
20 teams on the starting grid of the EHF Cup
20 teams from all over Europe are taking part of the first qualification round of the Men's EHF Cup, of which the first leg for most of them take place over the weekend 7 and 8 September. 42 more teams will join the race at later stages.
Second leg will follow next weekend (14/15 September), but first two teams will make it through to the second round already on this Sunday as HC Meshkov Brest host both legs with Israel´s Maccabi Rishon Lezion in Belarus and HC Ronal Jičín play twice at in the Czech Republic against HC Dobrudja from Bulgaria over this weekend.
As the winner of the first edition of the EHF Cup in this format, Rhein-Neckar Löwen are in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season, it is a fact already that the tournament will have a new winner. Out of the participants of the premiere edition of the EHF Cup Finals only the hosts of the tournament HBC Nantes stand on the list for the new season, they will jumped into the competition only in the second round.
The EHF Cup is played in the format which was introduced last year. Three qualification rounds are played before Christmas. In Qualification Round 2 and 3, teams with a higher seeding will be added, including the teams who did not qualify for the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League including European household names like Montpellier Agglomération HB, Pick Szeged, Füchse Berlin or Reale Ademar León.
In total, there are 12 teams waiting in the Round 3 already who will join four more teams from the second round in the pot of the seeded teams. These will be either teams coming from the VELUX EHF Champions League Qualification (Handball Esch, Besiktas JK, RK Borac m:tel Banja Luka and HV KRAS / Volendam) or their respective opponents in the Round 2.
The 2013/14 season will continue with a group phase consisting of four groups of four teams in February 2014 and quarter-finals before the top four teams take part in the EHF Cup Finals on 17/18 May 2014. The city to host the EHF Cup Finals will be announced at a later stage.
Find the pairings of the first round here
Photo credit: Milana Kharytonava
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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