Race to join Lublin in quarter-finals startsArticle
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LAST 16 PREVIEW: With one team already through to the Women's Challenge Cup Quarter-finals, 14 more teams will battle it out for the seven remaining spots
»2017-18 Women's News

Race to join Lublin in quarter-finals starts

The Women’s Challenge Cup Last 16 threw off last weekend when MKS Perla Lublin became the first team to book a quarter-final ticket.

With seven berths still up for the grabs, 14 teams are hoping to join the Polish side. Two of them will already be known this weekend as their ties are being played as doubleheaders.

This weekend’s Last 16 action opens Friday, when AZERYOL Handball Club from Azerbaijan are hosting Swedish side Kristianstad Handball Klubb for the first of two legs.

While Kristianstad are debutants in Europe this season, AZERYOL have a long tradition in European handball, mainly under the name ABU Baku.

After Friday’s match in the ABU Arena of Baku, the second leg will played 24 hours later.

Another doubleheader is set to take place in the SD Tresnjevka hall in Zagreb. On Saturday and Sunday, defending Challenge Cup winners HC Lokomotiva Zagreb will be hosting A. C. PAOK from Thessaloniki in Greece.

In Qualification Round 3, Lokomotiva eliminated UHC Müllner Bau Stockerau of Austria with an aggregate score of 61:38, while PAOK lost their second leg against OZRK Jedinstvo Tuzla from Bosnia Herzegovina but had already done enough in the first leg to advance (54:48).

Kristianstad are not the only Swedish club aiming for the quarter-finals.

Boden Handboll IF, European debutants like Kristianstad, are hosting Challenge Cup 2016 winners Rocasa Gran Canaria for the first leg Saturday afternoon, before the Spanish side have the home advantage in the second leg eight days later.

Also Saturday, ZORK Jagodina from Serbia have home advantage in the first leg against Turkish side Zagnosspor.

While the visitors are already enjoying their best ever run in a European competition, Jagodina are chasing their own best mark as a quarter-final berth in the Challenge Cup would be their finest achievement so far.

Alavarium / Love Tiles from Portugal and Ardesen GSK from Turkey, who both have played in the EHF Cup before, meet for the first leg in the Pavilho Alavarium in Aveiro, Portugal, on Saturday evening.

Also, ACME-Zalgiris Kaunas from Lithuania will be hosting Spanish side Rincon Fertilidad Malaga for the first leg Saturday afternoon.

The last tie, pitting Dutch side Virto/Quintus against ZRK Naisa Nis from Serbia, will be played as a doubleheader in Kwintsheul, Netherlands, next week.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew