ROUND PREVIEW: Already on Wednesday, Qualification Round 3 for the EHF Cup group phase opens in Southern Sweden
Final race for group phase tickets opens in Sweden
For the third year in succession, we are going to see a group phase in the Men's EHF Cup, and the coming two weeks, the 16 participants will be found, then the third and final qualification round is taking place.
32 teams are fighting for a group phase ticket, half of them will succeed, and it all starts in Southern Sweden on Wednesday night.
In an already sold-out Kristianstad Arena, IFK Kristianstad are taking on current number five in the German Bundesliga, HSV Hamburg, winners of the VELUX EHF Champions League as late as 2013.
“At first, it will all be about getting an acceptable result in the first leg at home. It will be difficult, but not impossible,” Kristianstad goalkeeper and former Hamburg player Dan Beutler told eurohandball.com.
In the spring of 2012, HBC Nantes hosted the first ever final round of the EHF Cup, in which the French team reached the final.
Last year, Füchse Berlin became the second host of the final weekend, and exactly those two teams meet in a direct duel to reach the group phase this year.
The first leg is being played late Sunday afternoon in the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, the venue of the EHF Cup Finals last season.
This year, Holstebro get a new chance in the tournament, where they will be meeting Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau. Holstebro are playing at home in the first match Saturday evening, and they will be meeting at least one familiar face.
The Estonian centre back in the Romanian team, Mikk Pinonen has a past career in Danish league club Aarhus Handball.
In their squad, Bacau also have the Spanish right wing Victor Alonso, who was tested by Danish champions KIF Kolding Kobenhavn before this season, but who ended by going to Romania instead.
This year, Sporting is back again, and in order to have the chance to copy their success from last year, they will first have to overcome Spanish opposition to reach the group phase.
Fraikin BM. Granollers will be the hurdle, Sporting will have to try and overcome, and the Portguese team has the home right in the Pavilhao Desportive Municipal de Mafra in the first match Sunday afternoon.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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