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18.11.2016, 11:40◄ last page     


ROUND PREVIEW: Reigning EHF Cup champions Frisch Auf Göppingen begin their quest for another triumph with an away game as the final qualification round for the group phase launches this weekend.
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Göppingen start defence of EHF Cup title

Frisch Auf Göppingen, who won the Men’s EHF Cup last season, begin their defence of the title this weekend as the German side enter the 2016/17 tournament in Qualification Round 3.

Göppingen begin to defend their title ranked 15th in the Bundesliga and will seek some encouragement as they meet Pfadi Winterthur in their attempt to reach the group phase. The first match against last season’s EHF Cup runners-up will take place in Eulachhalle in Winterthur on Sunday afternoon, with the return fixture set for the following Saturday.

This round of EHF Cup action begins before the 2015/16 finalists take to the court however, with two matches to be played on Friday night.

In Russia, St. Peterburg HC are taking on Maccabi CASTRO Tel Aviv, who are contesting the EHF Cup after failing to qualify for the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase.

The other match on Friday will be played in Austria, where another team from the Champions League qualifiers, Bregenz Handball, will host Futebol Clube do Porto from Portugal.

The winners of the 2015 edition, Füchse Berlin, have already eliminated French Chambery Savoie Handball – who in turn knocked the German side out of the qualification tournament last season. This round, the ‘Foxes’ from the German capital are ready to face another traditional club, Slovenia’s Rk Gorenje Velenje, on Wednesday.

Danish Cup winners HC Midtjylland are travelling some distance to play their first European match in history. On Saturday afternoon, they will meet Dinamo Astrakhan in Russia.

“My first thought is that a Russian team will suit a Danish team well, so I think we have good chances to proceed to the main round, which would mean a lot to us as it would give us more valuable experience,” Midtjylland’s Norwegian goalkeeper Lars Eggen Rismark told his club’s website.

Another Danish team, KIF Kolding Kobenhavn, are far from debutants in Europe. But after three years in a row in the Champions League, they are now playing the EHF Cup, where the first draw will be a particularly special experience for two of their players.

Goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt and left back Antonio Garcia have both played in Abanca Ademar Leon, so they will return to their former home ground when KIF play the first leg away against the team currently ranked second in the Asobal.

“Their defence is particularly strong, and we will have to improve our attacking play in order to have a chance against them,” says KIF’s Spanish coach Carlos Ortega.

The last qualification round for the group phase also includes a Scandinavian derby, as Alingsas HK, who lost the final of the Swedish championship to IFK Kristianstad the past two years in succession, meet Danish side GOG, back in European cup competition after a six-year absence. Their first-leg match will take place in Estrad Alingsas on Sunday afternoon.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg

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