Ukrainian and Polish champions clash in Zaporozhye
For HC Motor Zaporozhye, reaching the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 is already quite an achievement, as the team repeated their best ever result from the 2013/14 and 2015/16 seasons. Kielce boast a much richer history, as they won the title in 2016 and participated in the FINAL4 another two times in recent years.
However, the teams’ results in the group phase suggest that the gap between them has shrunk. While Kielce finished in fourth place in Group A with 14 points, Motor bounced back from a poor start to finish fifth in Group B with 11. So, Zaporozhye have a reason to hope for a positive result, especially in the first leg at home.
LAST 16, FIRST LEG
HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs PGE Vive Kielce (POL)
Saturday 23 March, 18:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com
The teams met in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2014/15 Group Phase, with Kielce winning 30:26 at home and 28:27 in Zaporozhye
This season, Motor started the group phase with four defeats, but greatly improved after head coach Patryk Rombel was replaced by Mykola Stepanets
Motor’s Barys Pukhouski ended the group phase as the second top scorer with 80 goals; Kielce’s top scorer, Alex Dujshebaev, tallies 67 ahead of the knockout round
Zaporozhye have two ex-Kielce players in their squad, PawelPaczkowskiand Mateusz Kus – but Paczkowsk’s participation in the game is in question due to health reasons
By beating Mielec 39:28 on Tuesday, Kielce claimed their 100th straight victory in the Polish league, extending a streak that began in March 2016
The winners of this duel will face Paris Saint-Germain, who skip the Last 16 as group winners, in the quarter-final