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19.11.2017, 22:03◄ last page     


ROUND REVIEW: Most of the ties in Round 3 of the Men's EHF Cup appear even after the first legs.
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Close encounters in the Men's EHF Cup

Judging by the first legs of the third qualification round in the Men's EHF Cup, we may expect some thrilling second legs next weekend, when the group phase berths will be decided.

A good number of the matches this week were really close encounters, and there is every reason to expect this pattern to repeat itself in the return matches.

However, there were also clear winners in some of the games.

 

The biggest surprise occurred on Wednesday, as OIF Arendal got a 27:27 draw away against defending champions Frisch Auf Göppingen.

After leading 15:14 at half time, Arendal even opened the second half by increasing that lead to no less than 21:14, before Göppingen, who were missing back court players Zarko Sesum and later also Adrian Pfahl, managed to catch up and get a draw.

“First of all, I am happy that we managed to get back from being down 21:14 and that we still have the chance to proceed to the group phase,” said Göppingen coach Rolf Brack.

 

For KS Azoty-Pulawy SA, reaching the group phase would be a new experience, as the Polish team were sent out of the competition in the third qualification round in the previous two years.

It would not be new to their adversaries, TTH Holstebro, who were in the EHF Cup Finals in 2013, the quarter-final two years later, and the group phase again the following season.

After the first leg, the tie between the two teams appears to be open.

Pulawy will be travelling to Denmark next weekend, defending a three goal lead after winning 30:27 in the Hala Sportowa Pulawach Saturday.

Holstebro were leading 14:9 in the first half, but the Danish visitors did not managed to hold on to their lead.

“We made too many mistakes, and it annoys me that we were not able to hold on after being ahead 14:9 – and that we lost two periods being one man more in the last few minutes,” said Holstebro coach Patrick Westerholm.

 

RK Nexe were in the group phase once before, in the 2014-15 season, and the Croatian club has the chance to get there again after being sent out in the last qualification round the past two years.

Nexe are trailing 29:26 after the first leg away against European debutants Ribe-Esbjerg HH, and this deficit should be an impossible task for Nexe at home.

Ribe-Esbjerg's playing assistant coach Lukas Karlsson would have liked a bigger win at home.

“I realise that we could have won by more, if we had been a bit keener in the second half, but the win was crucial after all,” said the Swedish playmaker.

 

Saint-Raphael Var Handball were in the EHF Cup Finals last season, and so far, the French team seems to be close to making it to a group phase berth this season.

With no less than 15 goals, left wing Raphael Caucheteux was leading the way, as Saint Raphael won 40:29 at home against Croatian RK Dubrava.

 

Another French team, who can look back on taking part in the Finals, is Chambery Savoie Mont Blanc Handball who were there in 2016.

And Chambery have a good chance to stay in the race for a remake, as they are not far from the group phase, at least.

In Hungary, Chambery got away with a narrow 25:24 defeat against Grundfos Tatabanya KC, who reached the quarter-finals last year, but who may have a problem getting that far this time

 

Just like Saint Raphael and Chambery, Fraikin BM. Granollers have been in the Finals once.

The Spanish team accomplished this in the 2015-16 season, and they still have the chance to copy that achievement this season.

Granollers won the first leg of their tie against Balatonfüredi KSE from Hungary clearly, 28:21, on Sunday.

The support from 2300 spectators in the Palau d'Esports de Granollers played an important part in the Spanish triumph.

 

Füchse Berlin have not only been in the Finals once, but three times, and in 2015, they even won the tournament.

On Sunday, the team from the German capital took a huge step towards the group phase, as they won 30:27 away against Futebol Clube do Porto.

“We needed 10 to 15 minutes to find our game and the right attitude.

“In several aspects, we were not focused enough, but still we succeeded in creating a small lead and a good chance to proceed,” said Füchse coach Velimir Petkovic after the win in Portugal.


TEXT: Peter Bruun/kc

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