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09.09.2016, 10:52◄ last page     


GROUP 1 PREVIEW: For the second year in succession, Norwegian Drammen is the venue of a qualification group for the Women's EHF Champions League. Half of the teams are also the same.
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Venue is the same and so are two of the teams

Just like last year, Drammenshallen in Norway is hosting a qualification group for the Women’s EHF Champions League.

Two of the four participating teams, hosts Glassverket and Dutch champions SERCODAK Dalfsen were also part of the qualification group last year, but both without reaching the group phase.

This year, they have company by Turkish champions Ankara Yenimahalle BSK and Croatian titleholders HC Podravka Vegeta.

Only the group winners proceed to the group matches, where they can look forward to meeting Montenegrin Buducnost, German Thüringer HC and French Metz Handball.

Glassverket (NOR) vs Ankara Yenimahalle (TUR)
Saturday 10 September, 16:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Neither of the two teams, who open the qualification group in Drammenshallen has ever made it to the group phase yet.

For both sides, the qualification tournament last year was the closest they ever got so far. Saturday afternoon, at least one of the teams will maintain the hope to proceed to the group stage, though.

“Our team has undergone many changes compared to last year, and we may be in a slightly poorer condition than last year. Still, I think that the ticket for the group phase will be a matter among three teams: Ourselves, Ankara and Podravka,” Glassverken coach Geir Ustorp told ehfCL.com.

“Just one look at Ankara’s squad shows that they have a strong as well as an experienced team, and there is no doubt that we are going to have our hands full already in this match, but with the support we will hopefully get from the Drammen crowd, I think we have a chance,” he adds.

HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs SERCODAK Dalfsen (NED)
Saturday 10 September, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The two teams have at least one thing in common: They both consist entirely of players from their own countries. However, this more or less ends the similarity.

While Podravka have a long and proud Champions League history behind them, Dalfsen have never been in the group matches, and if we are to believe Peter Portengen, head coach by the Dutch champions, it is not likely to happen this time either.

“I do not think we will advance to the Champions League. Our opponents are far more experienced than we are, and besides, we have only been able to train together for two weeks after I came back from the Rio Olympics,” says Peter Portengen who is working as assistant coach of the Dutch national team beside his job as head coach by Dalfsen.

“We will do our absolutely best, of course, and anything can happen in sport, and at least, we can play without pressure,” he adds.

Podravka’s coach Goran Mroden is more optimistic on behalf of his team. “We obviously want to win both our matches and qualify for the Champions League.

“I expect our first match against Dalfsen to be an equal game, while the home team, Glassverket is also an interesting team who will undoubtedly be hard to beat on home ground.

"Judging by the names of the players, the Turkish team (Ankara) seems to be the strongest of all the teams in qualification group, though, but we will take them as they come, and at the end of the weekend, I expect HC Podravka to continue to the EHF Champions League,” says a confident Podravka coach.
 


TEXT: Peter Bruun / br

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