ROUND REVIEW: The third and final qualification round for the Men's EHF Cup Group Phase starts already on Wednesday, as defending back-to-back champions Frisch Auf Göppingen receive Norwegian OIF Arendal. Six matches of the first leg will be shown live on ehfTV.com.
Defending champions open last knock-out round
Qualification Round 3 of the Men's EHF Cup gets off to an early start. While the vast majority of the first leg matches are taking place in the upcoming weekend, the opening game is already on Wednesday evening. Frisch Auf Göppingen, who won the tournament the past two years, are receiving OIF Arendal from Norway in the EWS Arena.
Göppingen are entering the tournament in this final qualification round for the group phase, while Arendal have been in the qualifiers from the start, first eliminating Handball Esch from Luxembourg, then Dutch OCI-LIONS.
In total no fewer than six matches of the first leg will be shown live and free on ehfTV.com.
On Sunday evening will be historic for CYEB Budakalasz. That will be the night when the Hungarian team are playing their first European match ever and it will be shown live on ehfTV.com. They will get experienced opposition for their debut in Europe. Spanish Helvetica Anaitasuna, who reached the quarter-final of the tournament last season, and who were in the group phase the year before, will be the visitors in the Elek Gyula Arena in Budapest.
This season, Porto have already eliminated HC Ohrid 2013 from FYR Macedonia in Round 2, while Füchse are entering the tournament in this round.
Last season, Grundfos Tatabanya achieved the best international result in their history, as the Hungarian side reached the quarter-final of the EHF Cup.
Now, they are entering the tournament again, at first with an attempt to reach the group phase. The team who will try to stop them from reaching that goal are Chambery Savoie Mont Blanc Handball.
Chambery's greatest achievement in the EHF Cup so far was reaching the final tournament in the 2015/16 season, but the French club also have three Last 16 berths in the Champions League under their belt.
The first leg in Tatabanya is taking place early Saturday afternoon and will be streamed live on ehftv.com.
In their first effort for European success this season, they receive Balatonfüredi KSE for the first leg in the Palau d´Esports de Granollers Sunday at noon (live on ehfTV.com).
Balatonfüred were in the group phase in the 2014-15 season, but the Hungarian team have already got further this season than they did last year, when Qualification Round 2 became the end for them.
Minsk were in the Champions League several times in the 90ties, but in recent years, their best result has been qualifying for EHF Cup group phase in the 2015/16 season.
In the play-offs for the group phase ticket, they take on another Austrian team, as Alpla HC Hard are paying a visit to the Sporthalle Lachen Saturday afternoon (live on ehfTV.com).
Earlier this autumn, Hard failed to qualify for the Champions League, and now the Austrian champions are seaking success in the EHF Cup instead.
Postponed schedule for Hafnarfjordur
Both matches of one pairing will not be played along the rest of the schedule. As the list of the Men's EHF Cup Qualification Round 3 teams was completed only last Sunday after FH Hafnarfjordur beat St. Petersburg HC in the penalty shoot-out, the Icelandic team was given more time to recover before their tie with the Slovakian champions Tatran Presov.
Hafnarfjordur will make the trip to Slovakia in the first leg on 25 November and the last group phase participant will be clear only on 2 December, hence two days after the group phase draw.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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