ROUND PREVIEW: HC Lokomotiva Zagreb, who won the Women's Challenge Cup last season, are trying to take the next step towards repeating that triumph when facing Austrian Stockerau in the third round of the tournament.
Reigning champions trying to take further step towards new triumph
Tickets for the Last 16 are at stake, when Round 3 of the Women's Challenge Cup begins Friday this week. It all starts in Southern Spain, where Rincon Fertilidad Malaga are receiving WHC Metalurg from FYR Macedonia on Friday night for the first leg of the two teams' internal double-header.
To Malaga, the two matches this weekend will be their first European matches ever, while the visitors have a long history in Europe. Metalurg, whose team consists entirely of Macedonian players, reached the third round of the Cup Winners' Cup in 2015 as well as in 2016. The second leg is taking place Sunday at noon.
Zagnosspor are playing Europe for the second time after their debut last season, when they reached Round 3 of the Challenge Cup.
This season, they will try do get a step further against a Swiss team who reached Qualification Round 2 for the EHF Cup group phase last season.
The most prominent name by the Eagles is 31-year-old Slovenian right wing Neli Irman who joined from former Women's EHF Champions League winners Buducnost ahead of this season.
Both teams are entering the competition in this round.
This Saturday, the Croatian team is starting their attempt to copy that triumph.
Lokomotiva are paying a visit to Stockerau, Austria, to face UCH Müllner Bau Stockerau who had no problems eliminating Moldovan HC Olimpus in the previous round, and whose finest achievement so far was reaching the Last 32 of the Women's EHF Champions League back in the 1998/99 season.
The first leg is being played Saturday evening in the Sportzentrum Alte Au in Stockerau.
While Boden are debutants in Europe and playing their first European match ever this Saturday, HIFK are starting their 11th European campaign.
So far, their greatest achievement has been reaching the Last 32 of the Champions League in the 1996/97 season.
This season, they are chasing success in the Challenge Cup with a squad consisting exclusively of Finnish players.
The first leg between Boden and HIFK is taking place in the Boden Arena late Saturday afternoon.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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