Handball Bundesliga club MT Melsungen will match up against HC Zamet in the 2016/17 EHF Cup. The pairings were drawn on Tuesday at the headquarters of the European Handball Federation (EHF) in Vienna. The duel between the North Hesse club and the Croatians is one of 16 pairings for the 3rd qualification round. The first leg will be played on 19/20 November and the second leg on 26/27 November. Croatia will host the first match. The team with the better goal differential at the end of both legs qualifies for the group phase starting in February.
The draw was conducted at EHF headquarters in Vienna by Markus Glaser (Senior Manager Competition), with assistance from the two EHF controllers, Bozidar Djurkovic (Serbia) and Wolfgang Gremmel (Germany). The MT was part of the first pairing to be drawn. Because HC Zamet was drawn first, however, it will host the first match.
The first leg of the 3rd qualification round will be played on 19/20 November and the second leg on 26/27 November. The winner based on goal differential will then advance to the group phase, which throws off on 11 February 2017.
HC Zamet is a club in the Croatian Premier league, and currently ranks at the bottom of the table after three matches. The team has nevertheless been much more successful in this year's EHF Cup. In the first round it send French club U.S. Creteil packing, and in the second round showed the door to the Romanians from CMS Bucuresti. Worth noting: In both cases the Croatians advanced solely based on the number of away goals scored.
The best-known name for the club from Rijeka, on Croatia's Adriatic coast, is its coach: Valter Matosevic. The 46 year old served as keeper for the golden generation of the Croatia national team that won Olympic gold in 1996, among other highlights. Matosevic is also a familiar face to Bundesliga fans, with a stint in Wetzlar (2005-2007) and seasons as an emergency option in Nettelstedt (2011) and the ThSV Eisenach (2015).
What they said about the draw:
MT Coach Michael Roth: "Right after the draw we naturally don't yet have all that much detailed information about our opponent. But we'll be taking advantage of every available source to find out more about them in the coming weeks. My first impression is that we're going to have our hands full with this opponent. After all, Zamet sent two relatively well regarded opponents home. Beyond that, I know that the Croatian handball academy trains their players very well at a technical level and that the players are highly ambitious. What's good in any case is that the second leg will be on our home court. That's a plus because our crowd is capable of getting good and loud. On the whole I think we're up to the challenge. Worse scenarios were certainly conceivable. I wouldn't necessarily want to swap with our German colleagues in Berlin, Magdeburg or Göppingen, each of whom has been paired with very strong opponents with major international experience".
MT President Axel Geerken: "Given the Bundesliga season we've played so far, we don't need any reminders that there's no such thing as an easy opponent. So we'd do well not to underestimate HC Zamet. With that said, we are hopefully about our chances to advance. Beyond the drawing itself, I'm personally pleased to get a chance to see the opposing coach again. Valter Matosevic and I were both goalkeepers for HSG Wetzler between 2005 and 2007. We first need to work with the EHF to lock down the precise dates of the matches and work out the travel details. In my experience, that takes a little bit of time. I presume that we'll be offering our fans some package to travel along to Croatia".
Info on the opponent: www.rk-zamet.hr
Info on the EHF: ehfc/men/2016-17
EHF Cup 2016/2017 • All matchups for the 3rd round of qualification
CRO, HC Zamet - GER, MT Melsungen
BLR, SKA Minsk - FRA, Saint-Raphael Var Handball
POL, KS Azoty-Pulawy - POR, S.L. Benfica
RUS, Dinamo Astrakhan - DEN, HC Midtjylland
SLO, RK Gorenje Velenje - GER, Füchse Berlin
ESP, Fraikin BM. Granollers - UKR, ZTR Zaporozhye
RUS, St. Petersburg HC - ISR, Maccabi CASTRO Tel Aviv
GER, SC Magdeburg - CRO, RK Nexe
ESP Helvetia Anaitasuna - HUN, Csurgói KK,
SWE, Alingsas HK - DEN GOG
ROU, SCM Politehnica Timisoara - SLO RD Riko Ribnica
FIN, Cocks - POL, Górnik Zabrze
GER, Frisch Auf Göppingen - SUI, Pfadi Winterthur
ESP, Abanca Ademar Leon - DEN, KIF Kolding Kobenhavn
AUT, Bregenz Handball - POR, Futebol Clube do Porto
HUN, Grundfos Tatabanya KC - ISR, Maccabi Srugo Rishon Lezion