Presov impress and seal group phase berthArticle
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GROUP 1 REVIEW: Presov will be back in the VELUX EHF Champions League, after a commanding win; the Finnish side leave Presov on a bright note with an impressive win over Differdange

Presov impress and seal group phase berth

The Slovakian side powered past the experienced RK Gorenje Velenje in their group phase decider match, while the Finnish side take third spot in the VELUX EHF Champions League Qualification Group 1 after their win over the Luxembourg champions Red Boys Differdange. 

• TATRAN broke the qualification tournament curse after five failed attempts
• The hosts took full advantage of their home court, leading from start to finish
• The Slovakian side will play in Group C

• Cocks take third in Group 1 on their debut in VELUX EHF Champions League
• Differdange finish bottom of the group on their return to the European elite for first time since 1999


RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs TATRAN Presov (SVK) 21:23 (10:12)

After failing five times in the qualification tournaments, TATRAN Presov impressed against RK Gorenje Velenje to win a second consecutive berth in the group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Strong back court helped TATRAN pull away

A motivated Slovakian side never went behind in one of the most important games of their season. With a loud croud behind them, TATRAN pressed from the start and never looked back, helped by a flawless back court, in which Oliver Rabek and Lukas Urban were stars from the first minute. However, TATRAN would have had a lot of trouble if not for their amazing defence, that helped the Slovakian champions power to a 10:7 lead after 21 minutes.

Amazing defence sealed the deal

But the real difference was made in the first 15 minutes of the second half. A 6:2 run, spurred on by Rabek and Urban helped TATRAN jump to a 20:14 lead that could not be recovered by the Slovenian side. As Presov were already celebrating the win, Velenje clawed back, but the 23:21 win was enough for TATRAN who play against Naturhouse La Rioja, HC Metalurg, Chehovskie Medvedi, Montpellier HB and Elverum Handball in this year’s VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase.

Anze Ratajec, centre back of Velenje spoke post-match: “Congratulations to them on their clear win. We prepared a lot for this game. When the final game came, we had hot heads. At the most important moments we missed a lot of 100 per cent chances. This is the reason why the match ended like that.”

Rastislav Trtik, coach of Presov commented: “We knew Gorenje are very strong in the centre back position, Ratajec and Mitrovic, play well with the other backs, line players and wings. Their left back, Levc, can also create huge pressure. All three left-handed players from Gorenje are excellent and can play as backs or wingers. Today we eliminated them with an excellent performance in our defence and from our goalkeepers.”

Cocks (FIN) vs Red Boys Differdange (LUX) 30:21 (18:14)

Cocks play as a unit

Similarly like against Velenje, and boosted by their performance against the Slovenian runners up, Riihimäki Cocks presented themselves in very positive way in Presov with good teamwork, aggressive and a disciplined performance in defence.

Yury Lukyanchuk led the scoresheet

The Belarusian line player was the main man for the Finnish outfit, as he showed a strong display from six metres. Supported by Riihimäki-born left wing Jani Tuominen, Cocks were too strong for Differdange as the Red Boys scored no goals between the 34th and the 43rd minute -- this proved to set the tone for the remainder of the match.

Second half dominance

Cocks built on their lead throughout the whole match. They took the lead in the first minute and they did not allow the Red Boys to get back into the game. The second half looked strong for the Baltic champions, who are definitely to have a say in this year’s EHF Cup where they will join in Round 3.

After the match Goran Vukcevic, the coach of Red Boys Differdange commented: “Cocks were simply the better team today. In the first half we played very badly in defence and allowed 18 goals to slip in. In the second half we scored only seven goals. Our defence was a bit better, but seven goals is not enough against such a team. We are very disappointed with the final result.”

Gintaras Savukynas, coach of Cocks felt that “the first half was not as good as the second one. Our defence did a good job, but we could not rely on our goalkeeper. In the second half we changed goalkeepers and we managed to beat the Red Boys with a comfortable goal difference. It was the first participation of a Finnish team at a tournament of this level. I am satisfied with the result.”

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / bc