Kremlin Bicêtre United, Hamburg Panthers and Nacional Zagreb were some of the teams to advance to the main round as the UEFA Futsal Cup preliminary round concluded.
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Kremlin Bicêtre United, Hamburg Panthers and Nacional Zagreb all advanced to the main round in style as preliminary round qualifying came to an end across Europe on Saturday.
Main round groups (29 September to 4 October)
(*Preliminary round winners)
Group 1: TTG-Ugra Yugorsk (RUS), Georgians Tbilisi (GEO), APOEL Nicosia (CYP, hosts), Kremlin Bicêtre United (FRA)*
Group 2: Benfica (POR), Grand Pro Varna (BUL), Dobovec (SVN, hosts), Centar Sarajevo (BIH)*
Group 3: Lokomotiv Kharkiv (UKR), City'US Târgu Mureş (ROU, hosts), Pescara (ITA)*, Hamburg Panthers (GER)*
Group 4: Slov-Matic Bratislava (SVK, hosts), Eindhoven (NED), Sievi (FIN)*, Zelezarec Skopje (MKD)*
Group 5: EP Chrudim (CZE), Nikars Riga (LVA, hosts), Athina '90 (GRE), Halle-Gooik (BEL)*
Group 6: Győri ETO (HUN, hosts), Baku United (ENG), Lida (BLR), Nacional Zagreb (CRO)*
Preliminary round summary
Group A: won by Kremlin Bicêtre
• Everything came down to the final game in the section as Kremlin Bicêtre faced off with mini-tournament hosts Stella Rossa Wien for a main round berth. Although both teams had won their previous matches, it was Stella Rossa who needed to prevail due to inferior goal difference – but in a tight game their French opponents won 2-0, Abdessamad Mohammed and Juanillo getting the goals.
• Kremlin Bicêtre had also advanced on their sole previous entry in 2010/11, and they got off to a good start this time around by sweeping aside Lithuania debutants Inkaras 7-1, David Rondon and Brian François both scoring twice.
• The club from the Parisian suburbs followed up by downing Istanbul Üniversitesi, whom Stella Rossa saw off 3-2 before handing Inkaras a 4-1 reverse.
Group B: won by Pescara
• Pescara – debutants with a squad including Italy's UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 winner Marco Ercolessi (who has claimed the last three Serie A titles with three different clubs) – impressed as they did not concede a goal in topping Group B.
• Rogerio Da Silva scored three in the opening 9-0 success against St Andrews before Mauro Canal hit two as Gentofte were defeated 3-0. The Italian side rounded things off with a 6-0 success against Encamp as Douglas Nicolodi notched twice.
• Encamp ended bottom after a 5-3 loss to St Andrews and 3-2 defeat by Gentofte, while the Danish and Maltese sides played out a 5-5 draw.
Group C: won by Nacional Zagreb
• Free-scoring Nacional Zagreb won a final-day showdown with Titograd to claim maximum points in the section and maintain hopes of making the elite round for a fourth time.
• Nacional hit 11 past Cardiff University and 15 against Blue Magic without reply as they set up the winner-takes-all clash with Titograd, who saw off Cardiff 3-1 and Blue Magic 5-1. However, the Croatian team had too much for their Montenegrin counterparts as Kristijan Grbeša scored two in 4-1 win.
Group D: won by Sievi
• Sievi cruised into the main round as they won all three games in Gibraltar to dominate Group D.
• Hosts Lynx were seen off first – despite Jose Bernal's home hat-trick – as Jarmo Junno, Rami Tirkkonen and Joni Pakola all scored two in an 8-3 win, before Miika Hosio scored three when Norway's Grorud were defeated 7-2. Santos were beaten 6-1 in the final game to make it a perfect preliminary round for the Finnish side.
• Grorud's 6-0 opening win against Santos and final day 4-4 draw with Lynx meant they ended second, while Lynx defeated Santos 7-4 to condemn the Scottish outfit to bottom spot.
Group E: won by Hamburg Panthers
• Aiming to repeat their run to the main round on their last entry in 2013/14, Hamburg proved too strong for the rest of the field in an otherwise evenly balanced section. The German hopefuls progressed with three wins out of three, thanks largely to the threat posed by Michael Meyer, along with Stefan Winkel and Mohamed Labiadh.
• Winkel got the ball rolling for Hamburg with the opening effort in a 6-2 defeat of Differdange – Luxembourg's first ever representatives – and he added a second shortly after Meyer had also struck. The duo were likewise on target in their second outing, a 3-0 success against Flamurtari.
• That left Hamburg needing just a point in their final outing against hosts Ólafsvík, who required a five-goal victory to leapfrog the leaders. It was not to be for the Icelandic side as Labiadh found the net twice in a 5-3 win for Hamburg, Kazim Onur Ulusoy also hitting a double.
• The Panther's success ended Flamurtari's hopes as well. Having downed Ólafsvík 5-1 in their opener – Djovani Kočović scoring a hat-trick – the Albanian club signed off by edging Differdange 3-2 thanks to a Kočović double, and needed Hamburg to lose by three or four goals. Their German rivals did not falter.
Group F: won by Zelezarec Skopje
• Debutants Augur became the 250th team to play in this competition when they met Zelezarec Skopje on Thursday evening, but it was not a dream debut as they lost 4-0 before doing slightly better in a 4-1 loss to Israel's Ben Gurion on matchday two.
• It was Zelezarec who won the showdown of the top two on the final day, Taulant Ismaili, Adrijan Micevski and an Eran Vana own goal giving the hosts from FYR Macedonia a 3-2 win and progress from the three-team section.
Group G: won by Halle-Gooik
• Halle-Gooik scored 14 goals and conceded just one as they topped their three-team section in emphatic style on competition debut.
• Progress Chisinaua – who went out unbeaten in their debut last term and were the only side with European experience in the section – started strongly as Sergiu Munteanu scored two against an ASUE side from Armenia who lost Andranik Karapetyan to a red card. However, Halle-Gooik bettered the Moldovans with a 6-0 victory against ASUE on matchday two.
• The victorious sides came together in a last-day decider, but it was never in doubt as Ahmed Sababti scored three and Valentin Dujacquier a double in an 8-1 win against Progress which secured top spot and a main round Group 5 place for the Belgian outfit.
Group H: won by Centar Sarajevo
• Centar Sarajevo made light work of Group H as they recorded two thumping wins to win the section from Mobulu and Göteborg, who won the game between the second and third-placed sides 5-2.
• The team from Sweden were the first to come up against Centar Sarajevo and ended up on the wrong side of a 13-1 scoreline as Nermin Jusić and Nijaz Mulahmetović both scored three and Marijo Aladžić weighed in with a pair.
• There was no upset when the Bosnian outfit took on Mobulu as they strode out 11-2 winners, with Jusić providing five of their goals.
Reporters: Ari Erlingsson, Ernst Schneider, Victor Daghi, Alberto Infantes Sanchez, Emil Gazevski, Ivan Moure
Elite round & Final tournament
• The top two in each of the six groups will join the four top seeds in the elite round draw on 14 October.
Bye to elite round: Kairat Almaty (KAZ, holders), Inter FS (ESP), Tulpar Karagandy (KAZ), Ekonomac Kragujevac (SRB)
• The four elite round group winners, to be decided between 10 and 15 November, will compete in the final tournament in late April with the hosts picked from among them.