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22.11.2017, 12:33◄ last page     


ROUND PREVIEW: Two out of three German Bundesliga teams are under pressure before the second leg of Men’s EHF Cup Qualification Round 3.
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German teams under fire

At least two out of the three teams from the Bundesliga are in danger of being eliminated from the Men’s EHF Cup before the group phase. Not many handball fans would have seen that coming, but it is a possibility ahead of the second leg of the third and last qualification round.

The return leg schedule starts already on Wednesday with Füchse Berlin hosting FC Porto live on ehfTV.com.

Defending EHF Cup winners Frisch Auf Göppingen are taking a 27:27 draw with them to Norway for their second meeting with OIF Arendal. Though it is an uncertain situation, Göppingen should actually be happy as they were down 21:14 at one point in their home game last Wednesday.

“I am not sure our spectators realise just how big of a performance we made in Germany. Now, everyone who wants to be called a fan simply must turn up to support us,” says Arendal coach Marinko Kurtovic ahead of the return match on Saturday.

SC Magdeburg are far from safe before their trip to Romania to meet HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta again. Magdeburg only won 27:25 at home, and that is not exactly a reassuring lead before an away game in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

“We may not have achieved anything yet, but we have given ourselves the right to hope, and at least theoretically, we are on the list of candidates for the group phase,” Constanta coach Sandu Iacob said.

Things look much brighter for the third German team in the competition. 2015 champions Füchse Berlin are leading Futebol Clube do Porto 30:27 before hosting the Portuguese side for the second leg on Thursday night. Just like in the first match, Füchse will be missing injured right back Fabian Wiede.

Fraikin BM. Granollers, who were in the EHF Cup Finals in 2016, are well on their way to the group phase, with a 28:21 advantage after their home game against Balatonfüredi KSE. On Saturday evening, the Spanish side will try to take the final step when they face the Hungarian team who played the group phase two years ago. The match will be streamed live on ehftv.com.

RD Koper 2013 were in the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals in 2012, under the name RK Cimos Koper, and the following year, the Slovenian club contested the EHF Cup Group Phase.

Now, Koper are making another attempt to proceed to that stage, and so far, it seems it will take a significant effort to do so, as they are trailing 30:25 after their visit to Polish team Gwardia Opole last weekend. On Saturday evening, in Sportna Dvorana Bonifika, Koper will try to close the five-goal deficit live on ehftv.com.

TATRAN Presov and FH Hafnarfjordur will have their first meeting, as Hafnarfjordur only qualified for the third round a week and a half ago after a penalty shoot-out against St. Petersburg HC. The first leg will be played on Saturday night in Tatran Handball Arena, Presov, and will be streamed live on ehftv.com.

The coming weekend will also see the second leg of the close Scandinavian duel between Bjerringbro-Silkeborg and HK Malmö.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg were in the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League last season, while Malmö are new in European cup competitions, but that did not stop the Swedish side from winning the first leg 25:23 at home last weekend.

“We can still proceed. We will be good in a full Jysk Arena. We will benefit from our home crowd,” Silkeborg left back Nikolaj Markussen predicts before the return match on Sunday afternoon.

The other Swedish team in this round, Lugi HF, are also involved in a close double header. In the first leg at home against Pfadi Winterthur, Lugi drew 29:29, so the Swiss side have an edge before the two squads meet again in Schulhaus Oberseen on Sunday afternoon.

“The tie is still alive ahead of the return match. It has happened before that we drew at home and won away in European matches. We have far from given up, even if Pfadi appear as favourites now due to their home advantage,” said Lugi coach Tomas Axner.

 

 


TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg

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