Big names chase group phaseArticle
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ROUND PREVIEW: A lot of prominent teams, several of which with a previous history in the EHF Champions League are chasing the 16 places in the second edition of the EHF Cup Group Phase, when the final qualification round starts Wednesday.
»2013-14 Men's News

Big names chase group phase

For the second time in succession – and for the second time in history - does the men's EHF Cup contain a group phase, from which the quarter-finalists of the competition will be found. This week and the next, the 16 participants will be found in the third and last qualification round.

Two teams with more or less happy Champions League memories will be opening the final qualification ball Wednesday night, when Füchse Berlin – VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants from 2012 – welcome HC Meshkov Brest from Belarus in the Max Schmeling Halle.

“Brest have been reinforced very well internationally, and with David Spiler they have an extremely prominent playmaker, whom we played against last season, when he was playing for Zagreb,” Füchse coach Dagur Sigurdsson told the German club's website.

Last season, HBC Nantes reached the final of the EHF Cup, when the French club was hosting the final tournament. Elverum HH, who were in the group phase last season, failed to qualify for the VELUX EHF Champions League this season.

Instead, the Norwegian side will be trying to book another EHF Cup Group Phase ticket, when they face exactly Nantes in the final qualification round. The first leg will be played in the Palais des Sport de Beaulieu of Nantes Sunday in the late afternoon.

Dan Beutler has played many a Champions League match for SG Flensburg-Handewitt and HSV Hamburg over the years. Sunday evening, the 36-year-old goalkeeper and his current teammates in IFK Kristianstad will try to take the first step towards the group phase they missed last season through an aggregate defeat to countrymen Eskilstuna.

This time, the team under Swedish national coach Ola Lindgren will have to overcome Romanian Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau, and the Swedes will probably not be missing support from the standings, as there is almost always guarantee for a lot of spectators and a great atmosphere in the Kristianstad Arena.

The previous three years, Kadetten Schaffhausen were in the VELUX EHF Champions League. This season, they are looking for success in the EHF Cup. The hurdle they will have to overcome in order to reach the group phase, is their coach Markus Baur's German countrymen and European debutants TSV Hannover Burgdorf. A new face by the North Germans on this occasion will be the Icelandic right back Runar Karason, whom Hannover Burgdorf have just signed from the Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

In the Danish league, Skjern Handbold has been the only team who has been able to keep up with KIF Kolding Kobenhavn this season so far. In the early afternoon Saturday, they will be starting their hunt for similar success in the EHF Cup, when they take on the Serbian champions RK Vojvodina in the Hell of the West – the Skjern Bank Arena.

Further information

Find the complete overview of the Round 3 matches here

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br