MATCH PREVIEW: The European Cup final debutants Höör receive the French team Issy Paris Hand in the first leg of the Women's Challenge Cup final
Cautious teams meet in Sweden
It will be two cautious teams with mutual respect who meet in Höör in Southern Sweden Saturday afternoon to decide the first leg of the Women's Challenge Cup final between them.
To H 65 from Höör, it will be their first European final in history, while Issy Paris Hand were the losing part in the Cup Winners' Cup final last year.
To both teams, it is their first Challenge Cup final, but Issy Paris have been in a European Cup final before.
However, the French ladies may not think back on the Cup Winners' Cup final last year with particularly happy feelings, as they lost by 18 goals on aggregate to Hypo Niederösterreich.
To Höör, it is their first European final at all. Last season, they made it to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, and this year they have taken it one step further to the final.
“We feel ready for the task. We have trained well and watches some video on our opponents. Everyone is fit and free of injury. We played a quite good game this past weekend (against IK Sävehof in the Swedish play-offs) and Saturday we will be meeting a team who is probably just as strong,” an optimistic, but cautious Höör coach Niklas Harris told eurohandball.com.
“Obviously, a win at home in the first match would be very welcome, but even in case of a narrow defeat, I think we will have a chance. Miracles have been seen before, but we can probably not afford a defeat of more than a couple of goals. However, I hope for a win by at least a goal or two,” Niklas Harris added.
Issy's Norwegian centre back Stine Oftedal has a quite good knowledge of her team's Scandinavian opponents, and
“To win the final would be huge step in the history of the club and the first title on the continental scene. We know they're a team playing fast, good on fast-breaks. Like a lot of Nordic teams, they´re physically tough, so we can expect a huge fight. We'll have to keep in mind that we are just playing the first half of the final on Saturday, so it means we've got to be careful not to panic, even if things go the wrong way for us,” the Norwegian international said about the Saturday meeting in Björkvikshallen in Höör.
Her coach Arnaud Gandais is hoping for stability from his team.
“We've had a lot of mixed games this year in European Cup. We've been able to win comfortably in Prague for instance, but also to play the worst handball for years. Let's hope that the bright side of us shows up on Saturday. The girls will have to go back in defence as effectively as possible, because Höör is very quick on fast-breaks. Limit the turnovers, put the ball in the net and come back quickly defensively, those will be the keys of the game,” said the Issy head coach.
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