PREVIEW: While former VELUX EHF Champions League participants RK Partizan seem to be bowing out of the EHF Cup, two further teams with a previous EHF Champions League experience are entering the tournament on match day two of the second qualification round.
Former Champions League teams seeking new success
After HC Sporta Hlohovec made it to Qualification Round 3 of the Men's EHF Cup already last weekend, another 19 teams will be following the Slovakian side this weekend.
RK Partizan, who were in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase last season, do not seem to be in for a long life in the EHF Cup this year. Being down 22:15 after their home match against HBC Nantes, the chances of Serbian team to eliminate the reigning EHF Cup runners-upfrom last season appear to be small, to say the least, ahead of the return match in France on Saturday.
Two teams, who were also in the Champions League group phase last season, may hope to be more successful, when they enter the tournament this weekend to play both legs of their second round ties.
Chambery Savoie Handball have Turkish guests, as BB Ankara Spor are visiting France for both games, while the menu is Ukrainian for Kadetten Schaffhausen, who receive HC Portovik for two matches in the BBC Arena on Saturday and Sunday.
A further double header is taking place in Arendal in Southern Norway, where last season's Challenge Cup winners SKA Mink, and OIF Arendal decide their internal tie over the weekend.
Fyllingen Bergen did very well for the first 32 minutes in “Little Balkan” last Sunday. At that point, the Norwegians were leading 11:10 in the Danish inferno Jyske Bank Mors Arena, where there are no hooligans, but always a lot of noise and enthusiasm.
From then on, however, the European debutants Mors-Thy Handbold outran and outplayed the visitors and won 26:18, a result which obviously gives the Danish outfit the edge ahead of the two teams' second meeting in Framohallen in Bergen on Sunday evening.
Mors-Thy coach Jan Paulsen is still cautious, though. “We have not won anything yet,” the former Danish international told the TV station TV2Nord.
Handball Esch have no happy experiences with Swedish teams this season. In the play-off for the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase, they were defeated 44:63 on aggregate by DROTT Halmstad, and so far the champions of Luxembourg are not doing any better against another team from Sweden, IFK Kristianstad, in the EHF Cup.
The first leg in the Kristianstad Arena was won as clearly as 32:19 by the team under Swedish national coach Ola Lindgren, and it would be a huge surprise, if Kristianstad do not proceed to Qualification Round 3, when the second leg is being played in Centre Omnisport H. Schmitz in Esch on Saturday.
“That is not going to be an easy match. As far I know they will have some players back for their starting line-up, whom they were missing in the first match. Still, it is better to go to Hungary with a draw than with a five goal deficit,” Lugi's head coach Tomas Axnér told the club´s website, referring to the fact that his team was five goals down several times in the home game.
Find the second leg matches schedule here
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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