MONTPELLIER AGAINST SKJERN, ZOMIMAK AND SPORTING, WILL DEFEND THEIR WILD CARD STATUS FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGE, ALSO SZEGED WILL HAVE TO SHINE AGAIST TATRAN, NANTES AND KRISTIANSTAD, AND FOXES WILL GO HUNTING IN ROMANIA, FRANCE AND SLOVAKIA AFTER GROUP PHASE DRAW
Romanian champions HCM Constanta, traditional EHF Champions League team Chambery Savoie Handball and the only team who started in the first qualification round Sporta Hlohovec from Slovakia are the three new hunting-grounds of Füchse Berlin in the EHF Cup after Thursday’s draw determined all four groups of the group phase.
The draw took place at the Gartenhotel Altmannsdorf 2 in Vienna and was carried out by the EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer together with the chairman of the Competition Commission Leopold Kalin and the chairman of the Professional Handball Board Joan Marin.
As the new edition of the EHF Cup Group Phase is packed with several household names of European top handball, the hunt of Berlin players in Group D can easily turn into a fox chase, if they underestimate their opponents.
Regardless their success or failure in the group phase Berlin will host the EHF Cup Finals on 17/18 May in the Max-Schmeling-Halle.
The next hot contenders for the final tournament and for the trophy too are the 2003 EHF Champions League winners Montpellier Agglomeration HB who will face two-time Challenge Cup winners Skjern Haandbold from Denmark, Macedonian HC Zomimak-M and former Challenge Cup winners Sporting CP from Portugal in Group B.
The draw has also put the Hungarian powerhouse Pick Szeged together with perennial Slovakian champions Tatran Presov, last season’s EHF Cup runners-up and the hosts of the premiere EHF Cup Finals HBC Nantes and IFK Kristianstad in only their second season in Europe to Group C.
The debutants on European stage TSV Hannover-Burgdorf will play in Group A with two-time Cup Winners’ Cup holders Reale Ademar Leon, Sweden’s Lugi Handboll and another European “rookies” Csurgoi KK from Hungary
The 2013/14 EHF Cup Group Phase Overview
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Row 1||TSV Hannover-Burgdorf (GER)||Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA)||Pick Szeged (HUN)||Füchse Berlin (GER)|
|Row 2||Reale Ademar Leon (ESP)||Skjern Haandbold (DEN)||Tatran Presov (SVK)||HCM Constanta (ROU)|
|Row 3||Lugi HF (SWE)||HC Zomimak-M (MKD)||HBC Nantes (FRA)||Chambery Savoie Handball (FRA)|
|Row 4||Csurgoi KK (HUN)||Sporting CP (POR)||IFK Kristianstad (SWE)||Sporta Hlohovec (SVK)|
NEW BALL FOR EHF CUP PRESENTED
The EHF Cup will enter its second edition of the group phase with a new playing ball. The official adidas ball was presented on Thursday on the fringes of the group phase draw in the Gartenhotel Altmannsdorf 2 in Vienna.
Each of the 16 participants of the group stage will receive two playing balls for each home match plus 25 training balls. The premiere use of the ball with light-blue and white hexagons will take place over the weekend 8/9 February, when the first round of the group phase throws off.In total 60 matches will be played with the new ball, including the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin. If the hosts of the tournament manage to avoid the quarter-finals, there will be just 58 matches as only three quarter-final pairings will be created.
Start right after EHF EURO
Just two weeks after the gold medal match of the EHF EURO in Denmark the EHF Cup Group Phase action will start with the Round 1 matches. The group phase will be played in a round-robin system with six rounds.
Playing dates of group phase
Round 1 (8/9 February 2014): 1 – 3 and 2 – 4
Round 2 (15/16 February 2014): 4 – 1 and 3 – 2
Round 3 (22/23 February 2014): 2 – 1 and 4 – 3
Round 4 (15/16 March 2014): 1 – 2 and 3 – 4
Round 5 (22/23 March 2014): 3 – 1 and 4 – 2
Round 6 (29/30 March 2014): 1 – 4 and 2 – 3
(EHF reserves the right to adapt the schedule in each group)
Key to quarter-finals
According to the competition’s regulations and as in the previous season, the host of the EHF Cup Finals can qualify directly for the EHF Cup Finals semi-finals from the Group Phase if they finish in first place in their group or as one of the three best-ranked second placed teams.
In this case only three quarter-final matches will be played and the worst second ranked team will be eliminated. Only results from matches against group winners and third ranked teams will be counted in the ranking of teams from second positions.
If the event organiser finishes as the worst second placed team then they must play in the quarter-finals to qualify.
If Berlin finish third or fourth in their group, there will be also four quarter-finals. Füchse will not take part at the final tournament, but still they will host the event.
OFFICIAL CONTRACT FOR EHF CUP FINALS SIGNED
On the fringes of the EHF Cup Group Phase Draw in Vienna the EHF President Jean Brihault and the manager of Füchse Berlin Bob Hanning inked the document setting up a stage for the second edition of the prestigious handball event which will take place 17/18 May 2014 in the German capital.
The organising rights have been awarded already last Monday just after the completion of the qualification stage.
“We are very proud to host the EHF Cup Finals. Berlin is not only the German capital but also a capital of sports. We are sure there will be 10,000 people for each day of the final weekend in our Füchsbau (e.d. Fox’s lair – the Max-Schmeling-Halle),” Hanning said at a short presentation of the EHF Cup Finals venue.
Füchse Berlin’s Bob Hanning (in Group D against Constanta, Chambery and Hlohovec):
“We will try to do our best to have a fantastic weekend for the finals in Berlin and hopefully invite just three teams to come to Berlin.
“As we just signed the contracts today, tickets will probably go on sale in January.
“I think it will be very difficult to qualify. We have Constanta and Chambery, who have been in the Champions League many times in the past, it will be a very interesting and hard draw for us.”
Gael Pelletier from HBC Nantes, last season’s EHF Cup Finals hosts (in Group C alongside, Szeged, Presov and Kristianstad):
“I hope that our team can reach the finals Berlin, it is a fantastic place. The event was a great experience for us last year and I’m sure it will be the same in Berlin.
“It is a very difficult draw against three good teams, but I still hope that we can qualify for the Quarter-finals.”
Laurent Munier of Chambery Savoie Handball (in Group D with Berlin, Constanta and Hlohovec):
“We have found motivation for this competition, it is a new tournament for us and I think we have a good chance to reach the finals.
“I hope that we will have all of our players returning on time for the first game and we will have to fight very hard to progress.”
Montpellier Agglomeration HB’s Robert Molines (Group B against Skjern, Zomimak and Sporting CP):
“Our ambitions are very high, we want to challenge for the finals, but first we have to deal with our group.
“Our opponents are not easy. Skjern are a strong team, Zomimak away in Macedonia will not be easy and we have experience of playing Sporting from about 10-12 years ago, so it will be nice to meet them again.”
Nandor Szögi from Pick Szeged (in Group C alongside Presov, Nantes and Kristianstad):
“I have mixed feelings about the draw. I feel that we may have come up against easier teams, but I knew before the draw that there are no real easy games as we are among the best 16 teams in the EHF Cup.
“Fortunately, we have very good and very enthusiastic spectators at Szeged and I am sure that we will have a full arena for all of the games.
“In my opinion it is quite difficult to suggest which team will be the most difficult opponent, maybe Nantes will be the biggest rival, but we will see.”
José C. Ludena of Reale Ademar Leon (in Group A with Hannover, Lugi and Csurgoi):
“We’ve played against Hannover about six years ago in a very close tie and we expect the same again.
“For us it is the first time in this competition and it is hard to know what the reaction of the club will be, but I think that all of the matches in our group will be very interesting.”
Skjern Handbold’s Anders Dahl-Nielsen (in Group B against Montpellier, Zomimak and Sporting):
“We have a goal to go to the quarter-finals, although we know it will be very difficult.
“We are working every day to make the Danish league better and better, I think we are improving each year and that is the reason why we hope to progress because I think we are strong enough.
“It is a challenge to meet these three teams from the south of Europe and hopefully beat them.”