The action starts in Israel
After HC Masheka and HC Dukla Praha secured passage to the Last 16 of the Men’s Challenge Cup last week, the remaining teams to join them in the next phase will be found when the second leg of Round 3 matches are played this weekend.
Three of the Last 16 participants are going to be found in double headers, one of which starts on Friday afternoon. In Ramat Hasharon in Israel, the first leg between the Ukrainian visitors ZNTU-ZAB Zaporozhye and hosts AS SGS Ramhat Hashron will be played.
The Zaporozhye team will be aiming for a triple achievement, as they reached the Last 16 in the previous two years. Ramhat Hashron enjoyed that same success last season, meaning one of the sides will have to bow out one round earlier than last year. The return match will be played on Saturday evening.
Last year, London GD HC reached the third round of the Challenge Cup, as they did in 2015/16. This time, they will try to make it a step further when visiting Ukraine for two matches against Donbas.
The Ukrainian home team are back in a European cup competition for the first time in 10 years, but they have a rather proud historical tradition in Europe, playing in the EHF Champions League no less than three times. Their current outfit consists entirely of Ukrainian players, who will be taking on their British visitors on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
The last double header this weekend will take place in Crauthem, Luxembourg, where HC Berchem are hosting Holon Yuvalim HC from Israel for two games on Saturday and Sunday. Berchem reached the quarter-final of this competition last season, while Yuvalim count a Last 16 berth in the 2014/15 season as their finest achievement so far.
Bodö HK are new to the Challenge Cup, after taking part in the EHF Cup three time – the latest being in the 2016/17 season, when the Norwegian club were knocked out of the competition after the first qualification round. In their first Challenge Cup season however, Bodö will have a hard time making it any further than the present round. The team from north of the Arctic Circle are 12 goals down against VHC Sviesa Vilnius after losing 35:23 in Lithuania last Saturday.
If Bodö are to have a chance to proceed in the competition, it might be a good idea for their defence to keep an extra eye on Sviesa Vilnius right wing Valdas Drabavicius, who scored 11 goals in the first match. The return game in Bodö Spektrum will take place on Sunday evening.