Nordic encounters in Selfoss and Arendal
After both Talent M.A.T. Plzen from Czech Republic and SL Benfica from Portugal qualified for the last round ahead of the Men’s EHF Cup group phase last week, the remaining 14 teams to follow this example will be found this weekend.
It is already a fact that at least two Nordic teams will bite the dust in EHF Cup qualification round 2, which will be widely covered on ehfTV.com as eight matches will be streamed live. The schedule can be found here.
Malmö and Arendal with upper hand
HK Malmö have some buffer after a fine second half in the first match at home against Icelandic champions Selfoss. After 17:17 at half-time, Malmö won 33:27 at home and can go to Iceland with a considerable amount of optimism on Saturday.
Selfoss, on the other hand, will have to make quite an effort to prevent their first home match ever in the EHF Cup from also being their last this season.
OIF Arendal also have a substantial advantage for their return against another Icelandic team, FH Hafnarfjordur. Arendal won 30:25 away in the first meeting between the two sides, and defending this five-goal lead at home obviously makes the Norwegian team favourite to advance to the next round.
Skjern want to go through after narrow win
With two Nordic teams sure to proceed to the third qualification round, Skjern Handbold have justified hopes to become the next.
The Danish team, a VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-finalist in 2017/18, are defending a 26:25 advantage from their visit to Austrian side ALPLA HC Hard last weekend. Even though their away win was as narrow as could be, it has given Skjern an edge Saturday afternoon.
Elsewhere in Europe, several teams start the return leg at home with promising looking advantages.
Abanca Ademar Leon and RK Gorenje Velenje are both leading by eight goals after their away matches last weekend. Leon are up 28:20 against Serbian side Vojvodina ob Saturday evening, Velenje are defending a 32:24 lead when taking on another Serbian team, RK Metaloplastika Sabac in the Rdeca Dvorana on Sunday evening.
Csurgói KK also have every reason to be optimistic before meeting HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta at home in the late afternoon hours on Saturday. The Hungarian team brought a 24:22 win home from their visit to Romania last Saturday, and Constanta will have to dig deep to maintain a chance of returning to the group phase, where they played last season.
SKA Minsk are also having realistic hopes of reaching the next round, although they start the second leg all level with RD Riko Ribnica after the teams drew 33:33 in Slovenia last week.Author: Peter Bruun / ew