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Challenge Cup expansion to six nations
The second EFAF Challenge Cup will be played by 12 teams from six nations and enable clubs from Turkey, Romania and Croatia to have their debut in the international arena. After its succesful inauguration in 2009, when Italy's Reggio Emilia Hogs emerged as cup winner out of eight participating teams, plans for 2010 were originally focused on an expansion to a 9-team-format. However, when interest from Romania and Croatia was signaled, the chance to go beyond that unfolded earlier than expected.
EFAF president Robert Huber and EFAF Tournament Director Uwe Talke found substantial support within the federations of Turkey, Serbia and Hungary for the possibility of further expansion. These federations, themselves established just recently, did not hesitate to lend their helping hand to the developing federations in Romania and Croatia to include teams from Bucharest and Zagreb into the Challenge Cup schedule. „It is an enlightening experience to see the Challenge Cup to span across the whole Balkan region in only its second year of existence“, Robert Huber stated. „We have to praise the federations from Serbia, Turkey and Hungary for their extraordinary assistance. Their distinctive dedication to join forces with EFAF in that matter was of tremendous benefit for American Football not only in their own countries, but on the whole continent.“
Four Teams from Turkey, three from Serbia and two from Hungary will compete with the clubs from the capitals of Romania and Croatia. The Bologna Doves from Italy complete the starting field - after the Doves lost their starting spot for EFAF Cup joint efforts by the other Challenge Cup federations and the EFAF Board of Directors pathed Bologna's way into this competition.
The preliminary rounds will kick off April 17 and the Challenge Cup this year will be played in the format proven to be successful in EFAF Cup: Teams are split up into four groups, playing one home and one away game each in a round-robin schedule. Week two of the preliminaries will be played on May 8 or May 22 and the last group games are scheduled for May 29. Group winners will advance to the semifinals.
Last year's runner-up of the competition, Hungary's Györ Sharks, return to Challenge Cup competition 2010 and again will face the Klek Knights in their preliminary group. Last year Györ came back after a two-touchdown-deficit to win the game at Klek. Still both teams advanced to the semifinals, but had to accept defeats against cup winner Reggio Emilia in the playoffs. This year Györ and Klek are challenged by the Istanbul Tigers, the only Turkish team, which tries to find its way into the cup final on a „Northern route“, as the winner of this group will play its semifinal against Bologna Doves, Budapest Cowboys or Zagreb Raiders. Contestants for the „Southern“ semifinal will come from Group A, where Ankara Falcons and Istanbul Cavaliers face Serbia's Kraljevo Royal Crowns, and Group B, made up of Istanbul Sultans, Cacak Angel Warriors and Bucharest Warriors.