Crunch time in Women’s EHF Cup qualifiers
12 teams for the first group phase in the history of the Women’s EHF Cup are going to be found this weekend, as the second leg of Qualification Round 3 is taking place.
Together with the fourth placed teams from the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches, those teams are going to form the final peloton of 16 teams in the group phase.
The first group phase participant will be found already Friday night, as Ankara Yenimahalle are visiting last season’s EHF Cup finalists TuS Metzingen with a six goal lead as support.
In the first match -- which was equal much of the way -- the Turkish team ended by winning 33:27, so the German hosts are in for a tough challenge to close the gap.
Viborg HK only have to close half of that deficit, as the Danish side hosts another club with pride.
In the first match in Russia, Lada were leading with 10 goals, but the visitors managed to reduce the gap to three at the end, as the match ended 29:26 for Lada.
“If we can avoid a first half like the one in Togliatti, we have a good chance,” line player Stine Bodholt told Viborg’s website.
“We need to be good in the defence and to let the ball do the work in the attack.
“We have a good base in Viborg Stadionhal, and we are in a good position after limiting the deficit to three goals in the first match.
“I think we are better than Lada, so we should be able to catch up with those three goals,” added the 27-year-old Danish international ahead of the return match Saturday afternoon.
HC Podravka Vegeta did not manage to qualify for the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches this season, and now the Croatian champions are on their way out of the EHF Cup as well.
Their international experience did not help them in their first match against European debutants SG BBM Bietigheim.
The German team won as clearly as 29:23 and are obvious favourites to proceed to the group phase before the return match in the Sporthalle Am Viadukt in Bietigheim-Bissingen Saturday night.
For the group phase, Bietigheim can look forward to considerable reinforcement, as Danish international Fie Woller is joining from Champions League participants FC Midtjylland from December 1.
The 24-year-old left wing has signed a contract valid for the rest of the season with an option for an extension.
France have a very good chance to have two teams in the group phase.
Nantes Loire Atlantique HB seem to be going to celebrate their European debut with group phase berth after defeating Dutch champions SERCODAK Dalfsen as big as 21:11 away last weekend.
That win practically reduces the return match in the Salle Sportive de la Trocadiere Sunday evening to a formality.
Brest Bretagne Handball are also new in Europe, and they are close to follow Nantes to the group phase.
Before Saturday’s game in the Arena Brest, they are leading by five goals against Spanish Super Amara Bera Bera, whom they defeated 25:20 in San Sebastian in the first leg.
TEXT: Peter Brunn / bc