ROUND PREVIEW: HK Malmö full of confidence before travelling to their first European match ever in the second round of the Men's EHF Cup qualifiers. Three matches of this weekend's schedule will be streamed live on ehfTV.com.
Confident Malmö in for European debut, Holstebro eye group phase
HK Malmö are debutants in Europe this season, but the team from Sweden's third largest city fly to their first European Cup match with plenty of self-confidence.
On Wednesday night, they dealt the last three years' Swedish champions, IFK Kristianstad their first defeat of the season in the Swedish league. Malmö won as clearly as 28:22 at home.
On Sunday, Malmö are playing the first leg in Qualification Round 2 of the EHF Cup qualifiers against Beykoz BLD SK.
Just like Malmö, the Turkish side are debutants in Europe, but unlike their Swedish opponents, they have played two matches in the tournament already, defeating KH BESA Fam Gas in the first round.
“We do not know much about them, but from what I do know, I think our chances to reach the next round are good.
"We have a good team with several players in or around the Swedish national team, and of course, our win against Kristianstad gave us new confidence,” says Malmö goalkeeper, former Swedish international Dan Beutler.
While BSK can wait until next weekend to play their Round 2 matches, Arendal are travelling to the Netherlands to face OCI-LIONS in the first leg Saturday.
“The Dutch team plays a very fast and good kind of handball, and I am sure we are in for a tough challenge, not least as we have had several injuries lately.
“However, I still hope for a good result away, so that we still have a chance on home ground next Saturday,” says Arendal coach Marinko Kurtovic.
After playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League last season, the Danish side is back in the EHF Cup, where they are entering the EHF Cup this round against HC Kriens-Luzern.
“Playing in the EHF Cup means a lot to the club, to the team and to me as a coach. Our first objective is reaching the group phase, but we realise that we will probably have two tough qualification rounds before getting that far,” says Holstebro coach Patrick Westerholm before travelling to Switzerland with his team for the first leg Saturday.
“Kriens-Luzern are definitely a good team, but I do think we have a good chance to defeat them and go on to the next round,” says Westerholm.
Just like Holstebro, Chambery Savoie Mont Blanc Handball have been in the final tournament of the EHF Cup before. In 2016, the French team finished fourth.
This season, Chambery start their European voyage in Israel on Sunday night.
Their opponents are Maccabi Srugo Rishon Lezion who will be trying to copy their achievement from last season, when they reached Qualification Round 3 of the tournament.
This season, Cocks were in the VELUX EHF Champions League qualifiers for the second year in succession, but once again, the Finnish champions failed to qualify for the group phase.
Instead, they are now entering the EHF Cup, where they reached the group phase last season.
Their first hurdle in their effort to emulate that feat is Belgian Achilles Bocholt.
The first leg is taking place in Belgium on Saturday night.
Three matches of this weekend's schedule will be shown live on ehfTV.com (geoblocking applies) - on Saturday CSM Bucuresti vs SKA Minsk and SL Benfica vs Gwardia Opole and on Sunday Balatonfüredi KSE vs Valur FC.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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