Two teams from Turkiye and Spain and one from Greece, Germany, Slovakia and the Netherlands apiece form the quarter-finals’ field of the Challenger Cup. These sides made the cut during an action-packed weekend which saw historical matches played in the prelims of the new competition.
Final rankings – Group A (Novaky): 1. Tenerife Echeyde (ESP) 9, 2. Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) 6, 3. NC Ydraikos (GRE) 3, 4. KVP Novaky (SVK) 0
Group B (Terrassa): 1. CN Terrassa (ESP) 6, 2. ZPC Het Ravijn (NED) 3, 3. ASA Tel-Aviv (ISR) 0.
Group C (Sarajevo): 1. Enka Istanbul (TUR) 9, 2. SKP Kosice (SVK) 6, 3. VK Invictum Sarajevo (BIH) 3, 4. VK Banja Luka (BIH) 0
Group D (Kranj): 1. Apollon Smyrnis (GRE) 9, 2. SV Ludwigsburg (GER) 6, 3. Triglav Kranj (SLO) 3, 4. KVIK Kastrup (DEN) 0
The two Spanish sides passed all tests with ease to finish atop in their respective groups. Tenerife faced a tougher challenge since none of their rivals offered easy cruising, still, they managed to claim 3-4 goals wins on each day. Here in Group A, Galatasaray beat Ydraikos in an epic 33-goal match 18-15, thanks to a brilliant third period where the Turkish netted 8 goals.
Terrassa, drawn into the only group of three, needed two wins and they delivered both with ease while Het Ravijn had no problems with downing Israeli champion ASA Tel-Aviv.
Despite playing at home, neither of the two Bosnian sides could prevent Enka Istanbul and SKP Kosice from going through. In Group C, the Turkish team was absolutely superior, scored a round-high 74 goals in three games.
Greece’s Apollon set another record, scored the most goals in a single game, 37, against Denmark’s Kastrup in Group D. The Greeks edged out Ludwigsburg 11-10 for the first place, fending off the Germans’ second half rally when they came back from four goals down to take the lead, though only temporarily. In the battle for the second qualifying spot, the German side won a huge clash 13-11 against home team Triglav. While a 0-5 rush in the second period seemed to make the damage, the Slovenians managed to come back to 8-8, but another four-goal rolling from Ludwigsburg decided the outcome.
The draw for the quarter-finals will be made on the occasion of the men’s Super Cup final in Sabadell, next Saturday (19 November).
For more details, stats, play-by-play and more, visit https://www.len.eu/disciplines/water-polo/challenger-cup/