French teams under pressure
Russian Kuban and Danish Randers HK are already through to Qualification Round 3 of the Women’s EHF Cup 2016/17 Group Phase after winning double headers last weekend.
This weekend, 28 more teams will be fighting for the 14 remaining spots in the last qualification round, and even though France is represented by no less than four teams in the tournament, the nation is in danger of seeing none of their clubs in the later stages of the tournament.
Three of the French teams are under pressure ahead of the second leg of their respective ties. Nantes Loire Atlantique HB are the only French team with an advantage after their first match – but they were also the only French team who played at home last weekend.
Nantes take only a narrow 24:23 lead with them to Debrecen for the return match against DVSC-TVP, so the Hungarian side have a very good chance to proceed.
Issy Paris Hand are also facing Hungarian opposition in this round, and as they trail by four goals at 26:30 after the away game against ÉRD HC, they may actually have the best chances of any French team playing the second leg this weekend.
Fleury Loiret Handball are in the worst position of the French squads. The team that reached the main round of the Women’s EHF Champions League last season are seven goals down against German Bundesliga team VfL Oldenburg after losing 22:29 in Germany last weekend.
Fleury will therefore have to work hard to turn the tables in Palais des Sport, Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
The fourth French team in the competition have not been in action in the tournament yet. European debutants Brest Bretagne Handball are playing a double header on Friday and Saturday on home ground against Russian Dinamo-Sinara, who made it to the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in 2015.
In other double headers this weekend, Slovakian IUVENTA Michalovce are playing at home against Romanian CSM Ploiesti on Saturday and Sunday, while Dutch champions SERCODAK Dalfsen are hosting Serbian ZRK Izvor Bukovicka Banja for two matches on Friday and Sunday.
Despite missing experienced Rikke Skov due to pregnancy, Viborg HK had a great start to the Danish league season. In the EHF Cup, the triple Champions League winners are close to the third qualification round after winning 29:23 in Prague against DHC Slavia Praha.
Head coach Allan Heine is already dreaming of the group phase:
“The EHF Cup group phase would be an interesting challenge. Being part of the European matches belongs to Viborg,” Heine told europamester.dk.
While Vipers Kristiansand are in trouble with a first-leg deficit of 23:29 against Handball Club Lada ahead of their home game versus the Russian side, Norway are still sure to have at least one team in Round 3, as Byasen Trondheim are meeting Tertnes Bergen in a domestic derby.
Byasen are heading for the overall win, leading 33:27 prior to their visit to Bergen for the return match on Sunday evening.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg