Struggling at home, successful in Europe
The two Swedish representatives in the Women’s Challenge Cup Quarter-finals may look like a bit of a paradox.
Boden Handboll IF and Kristianstad Handboll are occupying the two last places of their domestic league, but in the Challenge Cup they have made it to the quarter-final.
While Kristianstad will have to wait another week for their double-header against ZRK Naisa Nis from Serbia, Boden will make their quarter-final debut in the first leg on Saturday.
In the Boden Arena, they are hosting SPR Pogon Szczecin from Poland for a double-header Saturday and Sunday.
While Boden are playing in Europe only for the second time, Pogon Szczecin will be hoping to repeat their achievement from their only previous appearance in the Challenge Cup, in 2014/15, when they reached the final of the competition.
Gran Canaria have lifted the trophy before
Rocasa Gran Canaria have not only been in the final before - they have even lifted the trophy. The Spanish side won the competition in 2016, and reached the final again last season.
Gran Canaria, which will be hosting Belarusian side HC Gomel on Saturday night for the first leg, are leading the Spanish league and most recently defeated Zuazo Barakaldo 32:23.
Gomel are new to the Challenge Cup, but they participated in the Women’s EHF Champions League Qualification in the last two seasons.
Boosting their self-confidence
The other Spanish team in the quarter-finals, Rincon Fertilidad Malaga, are ranked only seventh in the domestic league but boosted their self-confidence with a 37:30 away win against Morvedre this week.
Malaga also reached the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup last season, their best result in a European Cup competition so far. To improve their best achievement, they will have to get past H.V. Quintus from the Netherlands. Malaga are playing at home in the first leg.
The visitors, whose team roster consists entirely of Dutch players, have a semi-final in the Challenge Cup three years ago as their best European result.Author: Peter Bruun / ew