Hunt for Kiel’s throne set to start
The Men’s EHF Cup 2019/20 will get a different winner compared to last season. This is a fact already before the competition throws off this weekend with the first leg of Qualification Round 1.
THW Kiel lifted the trophy in May 2019 but the German side will not defend their title as they have returned to the VELUX EHF Champions League this season.
Qualification Round 1 features a total of 32 teams. But as five ties will be carried out as double-headers in the weekend of 7-8 September, 22 teams will be involved in this first weekend of the competition.
The Men’s EHF Cup is going into its final season in the current format with three qualification rounds, a group phase, quarter-finals and the finals tournament.
From next season, the competition will be replaced by the European Handball League, which will consist of 24 teams.
EHF Cup season starts in Istanbul on Friday evening
The action is starting Friday evening, where the first pass in this season’s competition will be thrown in Istanbul. Besiktas, after five seasons in the VELUX EHF Champions League, will host RK Metaloplastika Sabac from Serbia.
Sabac, whose roster consists entirely of Serbian players, have a final berth in the Challenge Cup in 2014 and a Round 3 berth in the EHF Cup in the 2010/11 season as their finest European achievements this far.
The two teams meet again at the same venue on Saturday afternoon, as this is one of the two double-headers scheduled for this weekend.
The other double-header is taking place in Luxembourg on Saturday and Sunday, when Handball Esch will try to improve from their 2017/18 achievement, when they went out in Round 1.
Their opponents are B. S. B Batumi from Georgia, a team that also went out in the opening qualifying round last season. The Tbilisi-based team also entirely consists of players of their own nationality.
Malmö are one of the teams without foreign players
Another team without foreign players is HK Malmö. The team from southern Sweden reached Qualification Round 3 in the each of the past two seasons.
The first hurdle in their attempt to make it at least that far again is HC Spartak. The Moscow-based team, who made it to Qualification Round 2 in the EHF Cup in their maiden European season last year, will be visiting the Baltiska Hallen in Malmö for the first leg Sunday afternoon.
HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta made it to the group phase of the competition last season, but the Romanian side will have to start their campaign from the very first round again.
They will be travelling to Antalya, Turkey to meet European debutants CIP Travel Antalyaspor for the first leg late Sunday afternoon.Author: Peter Bruun / ew