|09.09.2016, 11:45||◄ last page|
GROUP 3 PREVIEW: The two-time EHF Champions League winners Krim Mercator face a tough task to maintain the top flight pedigree in the upcoming qualification.
Who will join the Scandinavian group?
Slovenian RK Krim Mercator will host Qualification tournament 3 in Ljubljana, at Sportna dvorana Kodeljevo.
Four teams will fight for the only spot in the group matches to join Group D competitors Larvik, IK Sävehof and Team Esbjerg.
The most experienced side hosting the tournament should stand on the front line along the Polish champion Lublin, while Iuventa Michalovce want to make their dreams come true and make the qualifying cut in sixth attempt.
Any underestimation of Indeco Conversano can prove costly for favourites, although it will be very difficult for Italian debutants to spring a surprise at the tournament.
Already the first semi-final promises to become one of the highlights of the Qualifying tournament 3 played in Ljubljana.
Slovenian runners-up and Champions League winners from 2001 and 2003 are considered the biggest favourites to advance into the group stage, yet they face a strong opponent in team of Iuventa Michalovce.
No Slovakian champion has ever qualified for the group matches and only Iuventa failed in their all six attempts so far.
Krim have lost last season all six group stage games, however strengthened by several arrivals of players, from which French international line player Laura Kamdop from Fleury and Slovenian national team captain Nina Jericek from Nimes stand out.
On the other hand, coach Uroš Bregar lost important player and a former inspiring captain in person of Tamara Mavsar (pictured below). Krim already won the first trophy of the season after beating Zagorje in the Slovenian Super Cup.
Iuventa are described as the most unpredictable side of all four teams.
They can beat any of these teams, but so they can lose. Frantisek Urban have lost two important players over the summer. Tatiana Filkova-Trehubova is expecting a baby, whilst Julia Kucerova did not extend the contract.
The national team goalkeeper Lucia Gubikova left to Presov. The best Czecho-Slovakian side, winner of WHIL and Slovakian double had solid pre-season with six wins and five defeats.
Notably, they won a traditional tournament on home court, meeting likes of Rostov (without Olympians), Lublin, which they can face in this tournament, and Kisvarda.
On Wednesday, before turning their attention to Ljubljana, Iuventa beat Czech champions Banik Most 30:26. Early start of the league can be one of the advantages of the Slovakian side.
If you are struggling to recall the Italian’s club name, do not worry. Conversano will make a debut in the European most prestigious competition on Saturday.
On contrary Polish champions are regular contenders in the competition, having played in the group stage last three seasons.
Sabina Wlodek girls will hope they can prove their European status, as they did not win a single match last season, similarly to Krim.
Lublin got off to a winning start in the league, beating Novy Sacz 28:23 over the weekend.
Their preparation matches included likes of Iuventa Michalovce, also featuring in Ljubljana.
“It is a pity this good tournament has not been held later. It was our first serious test, but very useful lesson ahead of Champions League qualification,“ said Sabina Wlodek.
Indeco Conversano are the winners of “La Tripletta” in two years, hat trick consisting of winning league, cup and super cup. It will be their first appearance amongst the European elite.
TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / br