The hunt for Lublin’s throne begins
The Women’s Challenge Cup 2018/19 starts this weekend – and this season a new champion must be found, as Polish side MKS Perla Lublin, who won the competition in 2017/18, are playing the EHF Cup this season and will therefore not defend their title.
If the title is to stay in Poland, it will be SPR Pogon Szczecin who have to take care of it, as the only Polish representative in the competition this time. Pogon Szczecin are playing a double header at home this weekend, with Finnish club HIFK visiting from Helsinki.
Action starting Friday
However, the action starts as early as Friday. In the Croatian city of Bjelovar, ZRK Bjelovar celebrate their European cup debut by hosting Kristianstad Handboll, who played their first international competition last season, reaching the Challenge Cup Quarter-final.
The match on Friday evening is the first leg of another double header, with the second taking place on Saturday evening.
In fact, this round is stretching over four days, as the last matches will be played on Monday evening. This is the case for the second leg of the tie between Szczecin and HIFK, and also applies to the second leg of the double header between Portuguese club SIR 1MAIO/ADA CJB and ZRK Naisa Nis from Serbia.
The Portuguese side have the home advantage over Nis, as both matches will be played in Marinha Grande, with the first on Sunday evening.
It is not all double headers, however. Spanish side Rincon Fertilidad Malaga, who reached the quarter-final last season, are travelling to Switzerland on Saturday for the first leg of the tie against DHB Rotweiss Thun. Thun’s finest achievement has been reaching the third round of the Challenge Cup five times in a row.