ROUND REVIEW: Ten teams qualified for the EHF Cup Group Phase on Saturday as only German and Swedish handball have a double representation so far thanks to Füchse Berlin and TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, respectively IFK Kristianstad and Lugi HF.
Ten teams ready for group phase
Ten of the 16 spots in the EHF Cup group phase were filled out Saturday, with the remaining six teams following Sunday.The hottest thriller took place in Leon Spain, where just one away goal sent Reale Ademar to the group phase in stead of Croatian RK Nexe.
Things were also close in Brest in Belarus, where Füchse Berlin arrived with just a two goal lead ahead of the return match against HC Meskov Brest. However, this was enough for the Germans who won the second match 21:20.
European debutants TSV Hannover-Burgdorf secured Germany double representation in the group phase through a 41:27 home wing against Kadetten Schaffhausen who had got a 28:28 draw at home
Last season´s runners-up, HBC Nantes may hope for a remake of that achievement after having added a 24:23 away win against Elverum HH to their 28:21 home win from the first game.
IFK Kristianstad could easily live with a 27:23 away defeat in Romania against Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau, as the Swedes had a 15 goal lead with them to the return match.
FYR Macedonia will be represented in the group phase, as HC Zomimak-M did not only manage to equalize Aarhus Håndbold´s three goal lead from the first match in Denmark, but also to win 33:24 and secure a clear main round berth, while Pick Szeged followed their 25:24 away win against S. L. Benfica with a 31:25 triumph at home.
Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau (ROM) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE) 27:23 (14:9), agg. 52:63
Bacau only managed to catch up with almost half of the Swedes' 15 goal lead from the first leg. After having been up with 12:6 in the first half, the hosts managed to get seven goals ahead at 17:10 and 18:11, but that was as close as they got, and the visitors managed to reduce the distance to four goals at the end.
“It all became a little nervous early in the second half, when they were leading by seven goals, but it a wonderful feeling that we managed to do the job and go on,” Kristianstad coach Ola Lindgren told his club´s website.
Füchse only had a two goal lead with them to Belarus, but that turned out to be enough for Germans who also managed to win the second match narrowly, although a home crowd of 3,500 spectators did their best to support the home team.
Brest managed to shock their visitors with a 4:0 lead at the beginning, but the Bundesliga team managed to get back into the game already in the first half which they won by one. In a close second half, then, Füchse still managed to keep the upper hand and qualify for the group phase.
Last season, Nantes were hosting the first edition of the final round of the EHF Cup, in which they reached the final. This season, the Frenchmen will not be hosts of the final round, but they still have the chance to reach the final again, after they managed to qualify for the group phase, as their seven goal home win from the first leg was followed by a one goal victory in Norway.
At half time, Nantes were also leading by one, and the Norwegian champions had to realise that they were not able to repeat their achievement from last season, when they reached the group phase.
Szeged had a reassuring one goal lead with them from the 25:24 win in the away game in the Portuguese capital, and they did not get in any trouble in the Varosi Sportsarnok, where 3,100 ethusiastic spectators celebrated with their local heroes. Right back Zsolt Balogh contributed to the clear Hungarian win and group phase with ten goals. The home win could even have been clearer, had Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor not given several substitutes the chance in the second half.
“We started the match very well, but when we began to change players, we could not maintain the difference between the two teams,” Pasto said, while his colleague from Benfica had high thoughts about Szeged.
“After the first match we still had the chance to go the next round, but in my opinion, Pick Szeged can be expected to reach the Final Four in the EHF Cup,” Jorge Rito said.
Lugi made sure that Sweden will have two teams in the group phase, as they copied Kristianstad´s achievement from the early afternoon. Lugi were in a fine position ahead of the match in Idrotttshallen in Lund, as they had won the away game in the Greek capital by two. And a two goal win was also the outcome of the return match.
“I would like to meet some big teams in the group phase. It would be naïve to believe that we can win this tournament, but it will be great if we can have some great matches, some fine event s and some spectators in our arena,” Lugi coach Tomas Axnér told the Swedish Handball Federation´s website.
Earlier this autumn Vojvodina failed to qualify for the group phase of the Velux EHF Champions League, and Saturday evening did the Serbian champions have to realise that they had not reached the group phase of the EHF Cup either. Being seven down after their 31:24 defeat in Denmark, Vojvodina and the 700 spectators in Novi Sad still had a small hope after the first 30 minutes which the home team won by one.
In the second half, however, the visitors removed any doubt about the total outcome and won almost as clearly in the two teams´ first meeting.
“I am really happy. Our defence was fantastic with a tremendous Tim Winkler in goal. Now we have eliminated the Czech as well as the Serbian champions, and we can now look forward to lot of exciting games after new year,” Skjern´s head coach Ole Nørgaard said.
Just one away goal sent Leon to the group phase, while Nexe's European adventure came to an end in Spain Saturday.
After the Croatians had won 34:29 at home, the Spanish home win 33:28 in the second leg was just enough to send them to the group phase, as they managed to score one more away goal than their opponents. 11 goals from Igor Vujic did not help Nexe, and the 4,300 spectators in Leon could celebrate at the end.
Last weekend, Rune Ohm scored 11 goals for Aarhus, as the Danes won the first leg 29:26. This time the 33-year-old right back scored nine. However, Ohm's total of 20 goals over the two matches did not help Aarhus.
Witnessed by 2600 spectators in the Sport hall Strumica did the Macedonians win the return match as big as 33:24, and the home team left no doubt as to which side was going to proceed to the last 16.
And Ohm from Aarhus was not the only player who could score many goals. Zomimak's left back Radoslav Stojanovic scored no less than 13 goals for the hosts.
Actually, Schaffhausen should have felt at home in this match, as it was played in the Swiss Life Hall. However, the Swiss team did not seem to be comfortable at all this Saturday evening in North Germany. After the 28:28 in the first match, the Germans left no doubt about the difference between the two teams this time. The 3,076 spectators saw the hosts cruise to a 14 goal win via a six goal lead at half time.
“I think we brought all we had onto the court today, and I am extremely happy that we managed to get on in the tournament,” Hannover-Burgdorf head coach Christopher Nordmeyer said, as his European debutants had made it to the group phase.
Sporting CP (POR) vs Rukometni Klub Porec (CRO) 30:25 (12:10), agg. 54:49
After a 24:24 draw in Croatia, Sporting managed to book the ticket for the group phase in Saturday night´s home match in Lisbon.
600 spectators in the Pavilhao Municipal de Torre da Marinha in the Portuguese capital saw the hosts being two goals ahead at half time and increase the lead to five during the last 30 minutes. Sporting´s right wing Pedro Andre Caseiro Portela became most scoring player in the match with seven goals.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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