Thrillers expected in second leg of EHF Cup qualifiers
Talent Robstav M. A. T. Plzen, Achilles Bocholt, S.L. Benfica, HC Ohrid 2013 and OIF Arendal are all through to Qualification Round 2 of the Men’s EHF Cup after winning double headers last weekend.
This weekend, 10 more teams will follow those five, as the second leg of seven ongoing ties will be played, along with another three double headers.
BSK Handball Elite have a good chance of joining fellow Norwegians, OIF Arendal, in the next round, as they are one goal in front in their encounter with Icelandic Afturelding ahead of the home game on Saturday evening. However, despite the 26:25 away victory last Saturday, BSK goalkeeper Henrik Ruud Tovas is far from feeling secure.
“The first match showed clearly that the two teams did not know much about each other in advance, but spent the first five to 10 minutes adjusting,” says Tovas.
“Afturelding are a good and typically Icelandic team who play a classic Scandinavian way of handball, and they are a solid team of athletic players.
“Even though we won in Iceland, I expect to see a stronger Afturelding team on Saturday in Oppsal Arena than we saw in the first match, so there is no doubt that we will have to improve too.”
ZTR Zaporozhye have a fine history in Europe, but this season, the Ukrainian side is in danger of being eliminated as early as the first qualification round in the EHF Cup.
ZTR, whose team consists entirely of Ukrainian players this season, lost the first leg against HC Kriens-Luzern 20:24 in Switzerland. They will need a strong performance and enthusiastic support from the home crowd in the Palace of Sports “ZAS” in Zaporozhye on Saturday afternoon in order to turn the tables.
Pölva Serviti seem to have an edge against HRK Gorica after drawing 21:21 in the first match in Croatia. On home ground in Mesikäpa Hall, the Estonian team will have a good chance of replicating their achievement from last season, when they reached Round 2 of the qualification tournament.
Things are also open in the Austrian clash between Bregenz Handball and SG INSIGNIS Handball Westwien. Westwien are leading 30:28 before the visit to Bregenz on Saturday evening, but Bregenz coach Matthias Günther is confident ahead of the return game.
“In the first match, we did well in the first half but missed too many opportunities. In the second, we did not manage to contain the wings, but at the end, we showed great spirit and managed to fight back.
“With the support from our fans, I am sure we can catch up with this two-goal deficit,” Günther told his club’s website.
This weekend will also see three double headers to complete the group for the next round. In Rishon Lezion, Israel, Maccabi Srugo Rishin Lezion and HC Olimpus-85-USEFS are meeting on Friday and Saturday, while Valur FC are hosting Italian team SSV Bozen Loacker Volksbank in Reykjavik on Saturday and Sunday. Serbian side Vojvodina welcome Greek A. C. Doukas in Novi Sad, also on Saturday and Sunday.