Final edition of the Men’s Challenge Cup begins

The Men’s Challenge Cup enters its final edition this weekend. From next season, the competition will be replaced by the new-look EHF Cup.

The hunt to win the competition for the final time begins with round 2 and there are several teams with VELUX EHF Champions League pedigree entering the fray.

Among them is Swedish side Alingsas HK. They competed in the group phase of Europe’s top flight in the 2009/10 season and again in 2014/15.

Now, they are ready for the first Challenge Cup campaign and first up is Handball Kaerjeng.

The team from Luxembourg reached the second qualification round of the EHF Cup last season and on Saturday afternoon they will aim to take a decent result home with them for next weekend’s second leg against the experienced Swedish team.

Finnish teams chase more success

Last season, Dicken, usually runners-up to Cocks in the Finnish league, celebrated their European debut by reaching the quarter-final in the Challenge Cup.

Their pursuit to emulate that achievement begins with a trip to Scotland this weekend.

In the Oriam Regional Sport Centre of Midlothian, they will be playing a double-header against Livingston Handball Club.

The British hosts also made their debut last season, narrowly losing a British derby against London GD.

Finland has another debutant in European Cup handball this season.

On Saturday evening, IFK Handball Helsinki are playing their first European Cup match, welcoming a very experienced guest.

Bregenz Handball have a past history in the EHF Champions League and are EHF Cup regulars, giving the Austrian side plenty of international experience.

A minute’s silence in Drammen

The first leg of the double-header between Drammen HK and Mahsul HC from Azerbaijan will be opened with one minute of silence in memory of Azerbaijan’s national coach and head coach of Mahsul HC, Hikmat Abdullayev, who passed away on 27 September.

While Mahsul HC are debutants in the European Cup competitions, Drammen bring plenty of European experience with them to the double-header in Drammenshallen Saturday and Sunday.

The Norwegian hosts also feature some prominent names, such as Norwegian internationals Espen Lie Hansen and Joakim Hykkerud.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor