Crunch time in Ikast, Vardar out for revengeArticle
«Go back

GROUP 2 PREVIEW: The penultimate weekend of the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round offers a pair of scintillating clashes, as FC Midtjylland lock horns with CSM Bucuresti while HC Vardar take on perennial Balkan rivals Buducnost

Crunch time in Ikast, Vardar out for revenge

FC Midtjylland face a decisive battle to keep alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals, when they meet CSM Bucuresti who will secure a knockout stage berth if they avoid defeat in Denmark.

In Skopje, Macedonian giants HC Vardar will try to avenge a crushing 31:19 defeat by Montenegrin rivals and holders Buducnost, after former champions Györi Audi ETO KC entertain IK Sävehof in the round’s opening match.


Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)

Friday, 19 February, 19:00 local time, live on ehfTV

Having secured their passage into the business end of Europe’s premier club competition, Györi will now try to keep up the pressure on group leaders Buducnost and at the same time stay ahead of third place Vardar, who are also through to the last eight.

Depleted by injuries to several key players, Györ were soundly beaten by Buducnost in the previous round, hence bouncing back and returning to winning ways will also be on coach Ambros Martin’s mind when his team meet Savehof.

The Swedish side have only pride to play for, as they have no chance of reaching the last eight, but they showed plenty of it in last weekend’s demolition of Danish rivals FC Midtjylland.

Devoid of any pressure, Sävehof are likely to give the more heralded Hungarian giants a good run for their money in what should be a vastly entertaining fixture.



In the build-up to the game, Györ announced that their Norwegian right back Linn Jorum Sulland will leave the club at the end of the season after joining them from Larvik last summer.

Sulland will head back to her country to join Vipers Kristiansand, a mid-table team with the highest ambitions to break into the top ranks of Norwegian women’s club handball next season.  

“We wish you a very successful career in your future club but before that, lots of nice goals and trophies with Györi,” the Hungarian side said in a statement on their website.

Sävehof, on the other hand, warmed up for the clash with a 27:21 home win over Team Eslöv IK, which kept them second in the Swedish top division on 34 points from 19 games, two behind leaders Skuru IK who have also played a game more.

FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU)   

Sunday, 21 February, 15:10 local time, live on ehfTV

This is a make-or-break match for both teams but more so for Midtjylland who must win to keep alive any hopes of avoiding an early exit from a fiercely competitive section.

Having won the reverse fixture at home, 24:22, CSM Bucuresti will secure a fourth-place finish and therefore a last eight berth, if they win or draw.

Defeat by two goals or less would leave them with having to match or surpass Midtjylland’s result in the last round, with both sides facing equally daunting tasks.

CSM are at home to Györi Audi ETO KC in their final game while Midtjylland can expect even more of a challenge as they visit reigning champions Buducnost in the cauldron of their Moraca Hall.



With their progress hanging by a thread, Midtjylland will surely rue the 32:24 blowout they suffered against the section’s bottom team Sävehof last weekend, but there is little they can do about it now.

FCM gave themselves a much needed confidence boost with a 30:25 home win over FIF Copenhagen in the Danish league, which kept them in second position on 28 points from 18 games, level with leaders Team Esbjerg, who have a superior goal difference.

CSM came up short in their 30:25 home defeat by Vardar in the previous round and their pivot Oana Manea made it clear the Romanian side would not be deterred by the setback.

“Our next game is against Midtjylland but I am not afraid of any opponents. We are a team of fighters and we will not give in until there is even the slightest chance to advance.”

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Buducnost (MNE)

Sunday, 21 February, 17:30 local time, live on ehfTV

Another clash of Balkan titans is on the cards as Macedonian giants Vardar aim to get some measure of revenge on Buducnost for a series of losses against their  Montenegrin rivals.

The recent 31:19 beating they suffered against the reigning champions came on the back of three previous defeats and just one draw, meaning that Vardar are aiming for their first win against Europe’s most fearsome team in recent history.

Marked by a fine win against CSM Bucuresti in the previous round, the home side will hope for another victory which would keep up the pressure on both leaders Buducnost and second place Györi, with all three teams in the section trying to earn somewhat easier opposition in the quarter-finals.

Vardar will hope that Andrea Lekic and her namesake Penezic can reproduce the blistering shooting form they showed against CSM, with the former netting nine goals and the latter adding seven to propel their team against the Romanian outfit.

Buducnost, for their part, will rely on a deep roster in which a plethora of top names function like a well-drilled unit and keep breaking down the opposition with a versatile and flexible game plan, like they did against Györi last weekend.



A win would secure the group’s top spot for Buducnost, whose coach Dragan Adzic was looking forward to a stern test of his team’s credentials in Skopje’s Jane Sandanski Arena.

“Having earned a magnificent victory against Györi, we are now turning our attention to the next challenge and the road game against Vardar,” Adzic told the club’s official website.

“Motivated opponents like Vardar are what we need to stay focused and ready for the quarter-finals,” he added.

Vardar started their build-up for the eagerly anticipated clash with news that prolific Slovenian winger Tamara Mavsar will join their ranks from RK Krim Mercator next season.

“We have signed one of the best left wings from this part of Europe,” the club’s executive director Davor Stojanoski said.

“That fact that Mavsar is 24 years old and already has an eight year experience in the EHF Champions League speaks for itself. We expect her to show the same kind of quality in a Vardar shirt, as we are trying to build a team with several top players in every position.” 

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / ec