ROUND REVIEW: The first leg matches of the Men's Challenge Cup Quarter-finals took place over the last weekend.
Pulawy and Cocks heading for semi-final
KS “Azoty-Pulawy” are close to the semi-final of the Men´s EHF Challenge Cup after a comfortable 31:22 win at home against United HC Tongeren.
Cocks Riihimäen also have a great chance to be among the best four teams of the competition after defeating RK Metaloplastika Sabac 23:17, while the tie between HC Odorhei and Aguas Santas-Milaneza seems considerably more open, after Odoerhei´s relatively small 31:28 home win.
The last tie, between IK Sävehof and Ukrainian ZTR Zaporoszhye will be played as only one match Saturday on neutral ground in Klaipeda, Lithuania, due to the current situation in Ukraine.
In Janurary, Jan Sobol had to leave the EHF EURO 2014 together with his teammates in the Czech national team after the preliminary round.
Saturday, the 29-year-old right winger had a much nicer experience, as he played a considerable part in his Polish team, Ks “Azoty-Pulawy” taking a major step towards the semi-final in the Challenge Cup.
Jan Sobol and left back Adam Babicz both scored eight times in the clear win which was celebrated loudly among the 711 spectators in the Hala Sportowa Pulawach.
After a relatively equal first half, which Pulawy won by three goals, the home team trebled their lead after the break and put themselves in a very good position ahead of the return match in Belgium on the coming Saturday
Cocks have never been as far in European handball, as they are this season, where they have reached the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup, but the Finnish top team does not seem to be willing to stop at that.
After a narrow 12:11 lead at half time at home against Metaloplastika, Cocks made things clear in the last 30 minutes, and can take a relatively reassuring six goal lead with them to Serbia for the second leg Saturday.
With 10 goals, left wing Teemu Tamminen provided his considerable contribution to his team´s clear win and increased his own total score in the tournament so far to 47 goals in five matches.
“The game went better than expected. Our scouting turned out to have been successful and we managed to destroy some of things Metaloplastika normally do. Six goals plus keep the dream alive,” Cocks coach Kaj Kekki told eurohandball.com.
The tie is still open after Odorhei's rather narrow home win. 1,200 spectators in the Sala Sporturilor Odorheiu Secuiesc saw the home team being three goals up already at half time, and this lead was kept during the second half too.
The small distance leaves Milaneza with a good chance to catch up in the second leg in the Associacao Atlética in Aguas Santas Saturday, though.
Odorhei's Macedonian left back Lazo Majnov, who joined the club from Norwegian champions Elverum HH before this season, became his team´s most scoring player with nine goals, while centre back Nuno Roque scored the same amount for Milaneza.
Photo: Jorma Vainio / Fotojorkka Oy, Sportfotopress
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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