ROUND PREVIEW: Several well-known names enter the second qualification round of the EHF Cup, including two runners-up of the previous season - HBC Nantes from the EHF Cup and Handball Esch from the Challenge Cup.
Familiar faces and Scandinavian clash at Little Balkan
The losing finalists from last season's EHF Cup as well as a team from the VELUX EHF Champions League last year are to be found in Qualification Round 2 of the EHF Cup which also contains a Scandinavian clash at “Little Balkan” this weekend.
Last season, RK Partizan from Serbia were part of the group phase of the European top flight, as they have been so often before. This year, they are in the EHF Cup which they enter in the second qualification round this weekend.
Saturday night in the Sportski Centar Vozdovac in Belgrade, Partizan are receiving HBC Nantes for the first leg of the two teams' efforts to reach Round 3, the final qualification round for the group phase.
Nantes will probably be just as keen on success in the tournament as Partizan, as the Frenchmen were hosting the EHF Cup Finals last season. In that competition, Nantes reached the final where they lost to Rhein-Neckar Löwen.
That crowd was an important part of the reason, why Mors-Thy became the surprise package in the Danish league last season, reaching the semi-finals of the championship play-offs and qualifying for the EHF Cup.
Sunday afternoon the same noisy crowd will be trying help their local heroes get the best possible result in the first leg of the Scandinavian clash against Fyllingen Bergen from Norway who defeated Estonian Pölva Serviti by 13 goals on aggregate score in the first qualification round, while Mors-Thy are playing their first European match in history.
In the qualification matches for the VELUX EHF Champions League, they were sent out by HK DROTT Halmstad 63:44 on aggregate, and Sunday the finalists from the Challenge Cup last season will find themselves in Southern Sweden again.
This time, IFK Kristianstad is on the menu for the champions of Luxembourg.
Kristianstad were defeated by no other than Halmstad in the final of the Swedish championship last season and are now looking for success in the EHF Cup.
Now it is the EHF Cup for the 37-year-old Swedish international. With his new team-mates in Lugi HF in his homeland, whom he joined this summer, he is taking on Grundfos Tatabanya KC in the Färs&Frosta Sparbank Arena in Lund Sunday.
While Lugi are entering the competition in this round, the Hungarian team qualified through a total win of 13 goals against Achilles Bocholt from Belgium in Qualification Round 1.
Among the rest of the ties in this qualification round, one will be decided already this weekend as SPORTA Hlohovec will host both legs with Borac Banja Luka, while four other ties will wait another week with both legs.
Find the schedule of the first leg matches here
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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