ROUND PREVIEW: With three teams already qualified for Qualification Round 2 of the EHF Cup, 14 more will be found this weekend
Crunch time for 28 teams in the EHF Cup
Bregenz Handball, OCI-LIONS and Talent M.A.T Plzen all qualified for Qualification Round 2 last weekend, and this weekend 14 more will follow, as Round 1 draws to a close with nine second legs and five doubleheaders.
In most of the nine ties up for decision, the home team appears to be in a commanding position.
IFK Kristianstad and Handball Esch are all but through to the next round already after their respective 11-goal wins away to A. C. DIomidis Agrous and Handball Kaerjeng respectively.
It may have come as a surprise to some that QubiQ Achilles Bocholt were able to win 31:30 at home against RK Zeleznicar 1949 Nis. However, on home court in the Sport Hall “Cair”, the Serbians be fancied to get the better of their Belgian opponents.
GRK Varazdin are in an even better position ahead of the second leg of the entirely Croatian clash against RK Dubrava. Varazdin will be defending a 30:26 lead when they start the home match at the City Sport Hall.
Holding a 32:29 advantage after their away game against HV. KRAS/Volendam from the Netherlands, HK Topolcany should also be able to finish the job at home in the City sport hall of Partizanske in Slovakia.
After a 29:27 win in Iceland against Haukar, Dinamo Astrakhan from Russia is also on the winning course ahead of the return match at home in Sportcomplex “Zvesdniy”.
There are, however, also home teams with a massive uphill task this weekend.
That goes for HC Gomel in particular. The Belarusian side is down 29:15 against BSV Bern Muri from Switzerland, and HC Zomimak-M from FYR Macedonia will struggle to keep the dream of another group phase adventure alive, with Polish visitors Górnik Zabrze leading 36:25 after the first leg.
Bursa Nilüfer BK are not much better off, as the Turkish outfit must tackle a 35:25 deficit from the away game against HC Sport Hlohovec, a side with sights set on a group phase place for the second year in succession.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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