Another Polish obstacle standing in Vardar’s wayArticle
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QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: After eliminating Orlen Wisla Plock thanks to an impressive second-leg victory at home, Vardar take on Polish title holders Vive Tauron Kielce in a bid to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4

Another Polish obstacle standing in Vardar’s way

The clash between HC Vardar and KS Vive Tauron Kielce is one of the most intriguing in the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals, with both sides banking on frenetic home support in their bid to reach Cologne.

Having eliminated Orlen Wisla Plock in the Last 16 with an impressive 31:20 home win after a 32:26 setback in the first leg, Macedonian giants Vardar now face even stronger Polish opposition in the last eight.

VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final Leg 1:
HC Vardar (MKD) vs KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL)  

Saturday 11 April, 19:00 hrs local time live on ehfTV

If Vardar’s dramatic comeback against Wisla in the previous round is anything to go by, their double-header against Kielce should be a real treat for handball fans in FYR Macedonia and Poland when the two sides lock horns for a berth in the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

Kielce are aiming to reach the season-ending showdown for the second time in three seasons, having finished third in the 2013 edition after a 31:30 win over THW Kiel followed a 28:23 semi-final defeat by Barcelona.

Vardar, on the other hand, are trying to get there for the first time following last term’s dramatic elimination at the hands of eventual winners Flensburg, when the German giants went through on away goals.

Vardar had previously eliminated Hamburg, then the reigning champions, and fell just short against Flensburg after trailing by five goals at half-time in the return leg at home.

The spirited second half performance in that game, the sensational victory against Hamburg and the recent enthralling comeback against Wisla should be Vardar’s script to pull of the biggest success in the club’s history, as emphasised by their Croatian centre back Igor Karacic.

“I’d rather not talk about Flensburg, although that day will probably stick in our memories forever,” the versatile Karacic told the club’s official website.

“Victory slipped out of our grasp in the final 50 seconds and we were left ruing a missed opportunity although we played at the top of our limits.”

“However, I think we have a very good chance against Kielce and I am looking forward to a thrilling contest against some of friends from the national team playing for them.”

“I hope we can repeat the feat we achieved against Hamburg. We played the first match at home against them and knocked them out after the return leg, so perhaps we can have a carbon copy of that scenario against Kielce.”

“I am confident this Vardar generation has matured and is strong enough to reach the FINAL4.”

Vardar did not warm up in the best possible way for the clash though, having finished fourth at the regional SEHA League final tournament after losing the semi-final to Meshkov Brest and then the third-place match to Zagreb.

Kielce will bank on their excellent away form for the first leg in Skopje, having beaten French rivals Montpellier 29:25 on the road in the first leg of the previous round and went through despite a 33:31 reverse at home.

The Polish champions kept their perfect record intact in the domestic league with a comfortable 38:26 home rout of MMTS Kwydzin, handing them 23 wins from as many matches in the country’s top flight.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / cor