Though there are still return legs to play, it’s hard to see that any of the today’s winners won’t make the semis in the newly launched Challenger Cup. The two Spanish teams were especially outstanding.
Men’s Challenger Cup, Quarter-finals, 1st leg
SV Ludwigsburg 08 (GER) v CN Terrassa (ESP) 7-16, Apollon Smyrnis (GRE) v Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) 9-5, Enka Istanbul (TUR) v ZPC Het Ravijn (NED) 14-8, Tenerife Echeyde (ESP) v SKP Kosice (SVK) 22-8. Return leg: 8 February
Terrassa did a clean job in Germany – Ludwigsburg were 4-7 down at halftime already and their tank was running dry in the second half where the Spaniards produced a 3-9 run. The other team from Spain, Tenerife also enjoyed an easy cruising at home against Kosice. A 4-1 opening was followed by an 8-1 thrashing in the second to secure the semi-final appearance virtually by halftime – at the end they stopped at 22 goals.
Of the two Istanbul-based sides, Enka stormed to a 3-0 lead early on, held the three-goal gap till the last period and doubled it by the end against Het Ravijn. Veteran Croatian Olympic champ Paolo Obradovic led the charge with 6 goals – in view of the final result, 14-8, we can say he made the difference.
The other Turkish club was soundly beaten in Greece – Galatasaray fell 4-0 behind early on but came back to 7-5 towards the end of the third in the home of Apollon Smyrnis. However, the hosts had the last laugh, they scored the only goal in the fourth while the Turks, after being unable to score in the first 11 minutes, also remained scoreless in the last eleven too. That ended in a four-goal defeat, perhaps a gap too much to bridge in two weeks.