Trefilov: "We will fight to the death"Article
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QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: Rostov-Don are close to the semi-final after the first-leg win in Brest, while their country-fellows Kuban face a much bigger challenge in their home game against SG BBM Bietigheim.

Trefilov: "We will fight to the death"

The second leg matches of the Women's EHF Cup Quarter-finals are set to be played on Saturday and Sunday. In the first leg games last weekend Bietigheim, TuS Metzingen and Randers HK won at home, and they will now try to defend their lead in the away matches.

On paper, Rostov have the easiest task as they won in Brest by five goals, and only have to confirm their advantage at home.

•    Both German teams celebrated victories in the first leg, while both French sides lost
•    Metzingen’s Anne Loerper is the competition’s top scorer with 49 goals
•    NFH - Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub recorded their lowest score of the EHF Cup season in the first leg in Randers, with 24 goals

Rostov-Don (RUS) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA)
Saturday 11 March, 16:00 local time, live on ehfTV

A strong performance and a five-goal victory in Brest (26:21) make Rostov the favourites ahead of the second leg, yet the Russian team’s coach Frederic Bougeant warns against complacency.

“It’s important to keep in mind that it was just the first part of our duel, we expect a tough game in Rostov. Do not expect me to think that we already have one foot in the semi-final – we will prepare for the return match very seriously,” he said.

As he is from France, Bougeant was especially proud that Rostov became the first ever team to win in Brest in EHF European cup competitions.

“Before the game, I told my players that they should score more than 25 goals, and they scored 26,” he added.

For Brest, it will be extremely hard to turn things around in Russia, so the French team, who are playing their maiden European season, see the duel with Rostov as a good lesson.

“Losing by five goals to Rostov was actually a good result. Our priority is to learn, and I am proud of what my girls did against a very strong opponent, who are among four or six best teams in Europe,” said Brest coach Laurent Bezeau.

Kuban (RUS) vs SG BBM Bietigheim (GER)
Sunday 12 March, 16:00 local time

For Kuban, last week was quite unfortunate as they lost to domestic rivals Rostov-Don in the Russian league and Bietigheim in the Women’s EHF Cup.

In Germany, Kuban’s players were punished for their multiple mistakes, and now need a strong comeback at home to recover from the seven-goal defeat (33:26).

“The battle is lost, but not the war. With the support of our home crowd, we will fight to the death. Believe in Kuban – we will not give up without fighting,” said the Russian team’s coach Evgeni Trefilov.

Bietigheim have a better position – and the Bundesliga leaders want to use it to reach the semi-final.

“We are a new team in the European cup competitions, and only the return game will show if a seven-goal advantage is enough to go through, but I promise that we will do everything possible. We are flying to Krasnodar to bring a victory back home,” said Bietigheim’s coach Martin Albertsen.

Nantes Loire Atlantique HB (FRA) vs TuS Metzingen (GER)
Sunday 12 March, 18:00 local time

Just like their country fellows from Brest, Nantes were defeated in their first leg match of the Women’s EHF Cup quarter-final (27:23).

However, Jan Basny’s team appear to have a better chance of making it to the next stage than Brest. They play the second leg at home, and overcoming a four-goal deficit seems quite realistic, even if Nantes have to push hard for it.

Anna Loerper was the driving force behind the Bietigheim’s victory in the first leg, and her nine goals against Nantes put her on top of the tournament’s scoring chart with 49 goals.

Loerper hopes that her team, who were finalists in last year’s EHF Cup, will capitalise on the success at home and ultimately advance to the semi-final.

“We were happy with the result at home. Our defence did well, and it’s a pity that we missed many chances in attack. But I think that with a performance like that we have a chance to be successful in Nantes,” she says.

NFH - Nykobing Falster Handboldklub (DEN) vs Randers (DEN)
Sunday 12 March, 19:30 local time

Hardly anything is clear in the Danish derby after the hard-fought match in Randers last week. A three-goal home win (27:24) gives Randers some advantage before the return leg, but NFH certainly have a chance for revenge in Nykobing.

Randers’ coach Ryan Zinglersen was particularly satisfied with the relatively low number of goals conceded in the first leg.

“I am very proud that we kept them down to 24 goals. Nykobing is a team that usually scores a lot, so it’s great that we didn’t let them do it. We knew beforehand that small details would decide the game, and we were better at them. But now we expect an exciting return match,” he said.

NFH had the best scoring record among all participants in the group phase, with a total of 194 goals and an average of about 32 per game. In Randers, Nathalie Hagman scored eight times for Nykobing, yet her effort was not duly supported by teammates as 24 goals was their lowest record in the European season.

Nevertheless, NFH will have a home advantage in the second leg, and they hope that this might help to earn an overall victory and claim a semi-final berth.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cg