A good weekend for Czech Republic and Finland
With matches taking place across Europe in round 2, the Challenge Cup got underway for the 2019/20 on Saturday and Sunday. The opening weekend featured positive results for two countries in particular: Czech Republic and Finland.
Double success for Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has two teams in round 2 of the Challenge Cup, and both of them are through to the next round.
10 goals from right back Beni Syla were not enough to keep KH Kastrioti from Kosovo in the game against HC Dukla Praha, as the two teams met for the first leg of their internal double-header in the Czech capital.
Leading way of 21:12 at half time, the Czech home team proceeded to a comfortable 39:26 win, which made the second leg a virtual formality, where Dukla took a 39:23 win.
The other Czech team, HCB Karvina, had a bit more trouble with their opponents: Holon Yuvalim HC from Israel.
Still, Karvina were able to win the first of their two home games 31:26. In the second match, they won again – this time, 32:29 – and head into the next round after an eight-goal win on aggregate.
Finnish debutants with impressive performance
IFK Handball Helsinki are debutants in European Cup handball this season, but this did not bother the team from the Finnish capital when they faced Bregenz Handball.
IFK seemed completely unimpressed by the Austrian visitors' previous history in Europe, and after a narrow 17:16 lead at half-time, the home team took a 35:32 win, which leaves them with some chance before their visit to Austria on Saturday.
However, regardless of how the return leg pans out, Finland is sure to be represented by at least one team in the next round.
Dicken made sure of this when they visited Mithloathian in Sctland for their double-header against British side Livingston Handball Club.
After taking a 40:20 win in the first leg, Dicken went on to booking an even bigger win, 42:13 on the second day.
Drammen left no doubt
The first leg of the double-header between Drammen HK and Mahsul HC, from Azerbaijan, featured a minute of silence in memory of Hikmat Abdullayev, head coach of Mahsul HC and Azerbaijan national coach who passed away on September 27.
When the match started, Drammen left no doubt about which team would proceed to the next round.
At half-time, the number one team in the Norwegian league led 21:9. At the end, the scoreboard said 38:16 for the home team. Norway international Espen Lie Hansen scored 12 goals in the first match before holding back a bit in the second match, where Ola Lillelien scored 13 goals, as Drammen won 36:22.
Kaunas avoid trouble
The fifth and last team who are already through to the next round is Granitas-Karys from Kaunas.
The Lithuanian team won the first leg of their double-header at home against SSSCJRO-1 Tiraspol from Moldova 33:24. Even though the team from Lithuania's second largest city were three goals down at one stage in the second leg, they were never close to being trouble – and the 26:26 draw was more than enough for them.Author: Peter Bruun / jw