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Date: 06.09.2016

The 2016 IHF Super Globe reaches the crunch stage as four teams prepare for their respective semi-final encounters, with two of the top four sides from the VELUX EHF Champions League 2015/16 taking to the court to contest the first and 2015 IHF Super Globe champions Fuchse Berlin meeting Qatar’s Al-Sadd in the second. 

The teams defeated in the quarter-final stage now prepare for two rounds of placement matches, as Brazil’s Handebol Taubate meet Esperance Sportive de Tunis before Sydney University Handball Club take on Qatar’s Lekhwiya. 

Only one of the four teams that participated in the 2015 edition of the tournament cannot equal or better their performance from the previous tournament, where Sydney Uni finished a historic fourth but this year lost the opportunity to defend that place when Al-Sadd took revenge for their opening defeat at the hands of the Australian team in the quarter-final stage. Al-Sadd ranked eighth in 2015, but now are guaranteed fourth or higher on the final standings, while Sydney will hope to record two victories in the placement matches. 

Berlin remain in the running to defend their 2015 title after defeating Lekhwiya 27:25 in the quarter-final, and will come up against Al-Sadd in the penultimate match to determine who contests the trophy. The first semi-final however, should be the showstopper of the day, as it sees a rematch of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 semi-final between Kielce and PSG played in May in Cologne. That game ended with a 28:26 victory for the Polish side, who went on to defeat Hungarian MVM Veszprem in the final and raise the trophy for the very first time for any team from their nation. 

If both teams are at the top of their game it will be a hotly contested 60 minutes, and though Kielce came out on top last time the narrow score line at the FINAL4 – as well as the respective squad lists of these two formidable teams that count some of the best players in the world amid their ranks – indicate a close 60 minutes can be expected. 

“PSG is a very good team – lots of good players: [Nikola] Karabatic, [Daniel] Narcisse, [Thierry] Omeyer, [Luc] Abalo and others. And there is my friend from before at RK Zagreb Luka Stepancic,” said Kielce goalkeeper Filip Ivic about their prospective semi-final opponent after they defeated Taubate in the quarter-final. The 24-year-old Croatian is one of three new key transfer players joining the Polish champions this season, along with Slovenian centre back Dean Bombac who is missing the Super Globe due to injury, and Serbian Darko Djukic. 

PSG also count a number of new names on their start list, including 2016 Olympic Games bronze medallist with Germany, Uwe Gensheimer (10 goals in the quarter-final), Swedish line player Jesper Nielsen, French Nedim Remili, Slovenian keeper Gorazd Skof, and, as mentioned by Ivic, rising Croatian star Luka Stepancic. 

When these sides met in May of this year it was a thrilling contest, and now considering the growth in both rosters and the relatively few departures, the stage is set for an exciting semi-final encounter. 

“Kielce was the best team in Europe last year. They won the Champions League and we know that it will be a very tough game,” said PSG’s Daniel Narcisse following their semi-final qualification. “We have not a lot of time to prepare for this game but we want to give our best to see how we are going to play.”

Prior to the semi-finals, Handebol Taubate will open the day against Esperance Sportive de Tunis in what can also expected to be a close match to determine which side earns the right to play the 5/6 placement match. Their opponent will be decided in the second game of the day when Sydney Uni face Qatari club Lekhwiya, who should prove as formidable an opponent for the Oceania side as Al-Sadd with their squad list including the likes of Egyptian star Ahmed Elahmar and 2015 IHF Men’s World Championship silver medallist with Qatar, Roine Bertrand – but the Australian squad will also be determined to prove their result last year was not a one-off.

Match schedule for Tuesday 6 September in Duhail Sports Hall
Placement round one: Handebol Taubate (BRA) vs Esperance Sportive de Tunis (TUN) 13:00 local time
Placement round one: Sydney University Handball Club vs Lekhwiya (QAT) 15:00 local time
Semi-final: Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs PSG Handball (FRA) 17:00 local time
Semi-final: Al-Sadd vs Fuchse Berlin (GER) 19:00 local time