Now the women play like the men in the EHF CupArticle
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ROUND 1 PREVIEW: From this season, the Women’s EHF Cup is following the same format as the Men’s competition. The first qualification matches take place this weekend.

Now the women play like the men in the EHF Cup

From this season, the Women’s EHF Cup is following the same concept as the men’s competition has adopted four years ago.

This means that the EHF Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup have merged into the Women’s EHF Cup, where three qualification rounds this autumn will determine the 16 teams in the group phase, which is going to be played after new year.

The group phase is being followed by quarter-finals. Unlike in the Men’s EHF Cup the semi-finals and the finals will be played in two legs (home and away) unless a potential organiser of the final tournament presents an interesting project.

The qualification tournament launches this weekend with the first leg of several tie in Qualification Round 1 as well as a few double headers.

Strong teams appearing for the start

With the signing of Norwegian international Linn Jørum Sulland from Györi Audi ETO KC as well as the back court trio from Glassverket, Kristin Nørstebø, Jeanette Kristiansen and Kari Brattset, Vipers Kristiansand seems like a team who can go far in this new EHF Cup.

Their coaching duo also has considerable international experience, as their head coach Kenneth Gabrielsen was in charge of Glassverket in the Women´s EHF Champions League qualifiers and the Cup Winners’ Cup last year – and their assistant coach is no other than former Norwegian international Kristine Lunde-Borgersen.

This weekend, Vipers are hosting a double header against Italian Cassano Magnago who made a European comeback after 15 years absence last season, reaching Round 2 of the EHF Cup.

The first leg is being played in the Aquarama Kristiansand Saturday night, the return match taking place in the same venue the following evening.

The Danish powerhouse Nykøbing Falster HK are also entering the tournament already in the first qualification round, and with players such as Danish internationals Kristina Kristiansen and Pernille Holmsgaard as well as Swedish international Nathalie Hagman along with several other star players, the European debutants from Southern Denmark also look like a team who can make their mark in the tournament.

Their first hurdle will be a Scandinavian derby against Swedish Lugi HF, the first leg taking place on Lugi´s home ground in Lund Sunday afternoon.

“It is slightly peculiar for us to be playing a European game before the Danish league has started.

“We feel, as if we lack two weeks of our preparations, as we have mainly been training physically this far, so we are still in need of some actual handball practice,” Nykøbing coach Niels Agesen tells

“However, the conditions are more or less the same for our opponents, and we have already defeated Lugi in two test matches ahead of this season, so I expect us to proceed in the tournament,” adds Niels Agesen who has won the EHF Cup twice in his time as head coach by another Danish team, TTH Holstebro.

Friday is opening night

However, it is Friday which is the opening night of the new Women's EHF Cup.

At 18.00 local time, Romanian ASC Corona 2010 Brasov are welcoming Bosnian HZRK Grude for the first leg of a double header in the Dumitru Popescu Colibasi in Brasov, where the second match is going to take place Saturday evening.

Later the same evening, the first leg of another double header is starting in France.

Nantes Loire Atlantique HB are receiving Alavarium/Love Tiles from Portugal, the second leg to be played the following night.

Three further ties will find the decision in double headers this weekend, the matches taking place Saturday and Sunday.

SPONO Eagles from Switzerland are hosting KHF Pristina from Kosovo, while Russian Dinamo-Sinara are receiving Dutch Succes Schoonmak/VOC Amsterdam, and Turkish Muratpasa Belediyesi SK are taking on ACME-Zalgiris Kaunas from Lithuania.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br