Big teams open EHF European League Men qualification

ER 2842 (1)
EHF / Danijela Vekić

The EHF European League Men returns to action this Saturday and Sunday (26/27 August). The 2023/24 campaign starts with exciting clashes in leg 1 of the only qualification round, as 10 clubs from eight countries will try to seal their group phase berth.

After three straight seasons, Europe’s second-tier men’s club competition has undergone its first significant change. Newly created group matches will be played with 32 teams divided into eight groups of four – and only five of those spots are still up for grabs.

The five qualification ties include some big-name teams, including 2022/23 runners-up Fraikin BM. Granollers, two-time EHF Champions League winners HC Vardar 1961, and German top side Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

The return leg is scheduled for next weekend (2/3 September).


Ystads IF HF (SWE) vs TSV Hannover-Burgdorf (GER)
Saturday 26 August, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • the Swedish side reached the Last 16 last season; Hannover are entering only their third European season
  • only two days before the match in Sweden, the German team will face Erlangen HC at the start of the Bundesliga season; Ystads won the Swedish Cup against IFK Karlskrona
  • Swedish legend Kim Andersson enters his 18th season playing in European club competitions, and his ninth with Ystad
  • Hannover’s Renars Uscins and Justus Fischer were part of the German national team that won the world under-21 title this summer
  • it is the first time these two sides meet in any of the EHF club competitions

RK Trimo Trebnje (SLO) vs ABC de Braga (POR)
Saturday 26 August, 18:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Trimo Trebnje failed to progress further than the first qualification round in the last two seasons; Braga last played in Europe in EHF Champions League 2016/17 season
  • the Slovenian side is led by the four-time EHF Champions League winner Uroš Zorman
  • both sides have almost an entire domestic squad: Trimo Trebnje have three foreigners (Croatians Tin Herceg and Krešimir Krešic and Italian Davide Bulzamini); ABC two Brazilians (Vinícios Carvalho and Leonardo Abrahão)
  • Trimo Trebnje and ABC de Braga have never met before

Aguas Santas Milaneza (POR) vs Pfadi Winterthur (SUI)
Saturday 26 August, 19:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • the 2022/23 season marked Aguas Santas’ debut in the group phase of the EHF European League
  • Phadi Winterthur are back after playing in the EHF European Cup last season
  • experienced centre back Pedro Cruz returned to Aguas Santas from Porto; in the last two EHF Champions League seasons, he scored 57 goals in total
  • the Swiss side have one Portuguese player – pivot Eduardo Mendoca, who also played for the other  Portuguese club in the qualification, Braga
  • this is the first time these two sides meet in an EHF club competition

HC Vardar 1961 (MKD) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)
Saturday 26 August, 19:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • 2017 and 2019 EHF Champions League winners Vardar are back in Europa after a one-year absence; the last time Vardar played a second-tier competition was in 2012/13, when they reached round 3 of the EHF Cup
  • Löwen play qualification for a second straight year; in 2020/21, they reached the inaugural EHF Finals and finished third
  • Vardar legend Borko Ristovski and Stojanche Stoilov have become executive director and assistant coach, respectively; new team captain is Goce Georgievski
  • Löwen lost the German Super Cup final against THW Kiel after a dramatic shoot-out; they are without star left wing Uwe Gensheimer who underwent knee surgery in June
  • the two powerhouses have met 10 times before: Vardar lead the head-to-head 7-3

CSM Constanta (ROU) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP)
Sunday 27 August, 17:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Constanta are heading into their seventh European season; the only time they managed to secure a group phase berth was in the EHF Cup 2018/19
  • Granollers lost the EHF European League 2022/23 final to Füchse; they are back in qualification after finishing third in the Spanish ASOBAL league
  • Granollers again rely on last season’s top scorer Antonio García Robledo; their squad also includes four youth world champions: Víctor Romero, Pol Amores, Pablo Guijarro and Ferran Castillo
  • Constanta narrowly lost the final of the Romanian Super Cup against Dinamo Bucuresti: 26:25; centre back Andrei Drăgan received an MVP award
  • the Romanian side have eight different nationalities: apart from domestic players, there are players from Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, and Argentina


photos © Sörli Binder/AS Sportfoto; Martin Deuring; Axel Heimken/kolektiff

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