Ambitious Spaniards ready for Challenge Cup return
The Women’s Challenge Cup returns this weekend after the winter break.
The competition has got to the Last 16, and the action starts already on Friday at 17:00 hrs local tie in Rishon Lezion, Israel.
In the first leg of a double-header, Maccabi Srugo Rishon Leazion host Swedish Boden Handboll IF, who are in a European Cup competition for the second time and the second year in succession.
Last season, Boden reached this stage in their debut Challenge Cup and feel they can go a step further this time around, but they will need to overcome a home team celebrating their European comeback after a 23-year absence.
The second leg of the double-header is being played on Saturday afternoon.
A further double-header can be seen in southern Spain, where Rincon Fertilidad Malaga welcome KHF Istogu from Kosovo for two games on Saturday and Sunday.
In their maiden season in Europe last year, Malaga reached the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup, while KHF Istogu reached Round 4 of the same competition last year.
This season, the Kosovan team eliminated Italian Cassano Magnago narrowly in Round 3.
Malaga had just as much trouble in their Round 3 tie against DHB Rotweiss SPL 1 from Switzerland who were sent out after a draw and a three-goal win for Malaga.
Rocasa Gran Canaria look to emulate success
A Spanish team with even greater European success than Malaga is Rocasa Gran Canaria, who won the Challenge Cup in 2016 and who reached the final again last year.
In their attempt to stay in the race for another title, Gran Canaria will have to overcome Turkey’s Ankara Yenimahalle BSK in the Last 16.
On Saturday evening, Gran Canaria host the first match against the Turkish team, who have two participations in the Women’s EHF Champions League qualifiers on their CV.
Belarusian club HC Gomel are another team to play in the qualification tournament for Europe’s top flight.
Gomel were there in 2017, but now it is the Challenge Cup for them, this weekend they host a double-header against Croatia’s ZRK Koka, who have not been in Europe since the 2001/02 season, when they reached the quarter-final of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
The two matches in the Sport Palast of Gomel take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.Author: Peter Bruun / cor