Preseason Allsvenskan favorites Malmö FF, defending league champions IFK Norrköping, and AIK, headline the seven Allsvenskan teams to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2015-16 Swedish Cup. Helsingborg, BK Häcken, Kalmar and Hammarby also won their groups. The shock group winner was Superettan side Halmstad, which managed to eke out a win in Group 2 over 2015 Cup winner IFK Göteborg.

The quarterfinals offer some intriguing matchups. Malmö faces IFK Norrköping March 12 in a meeting of likely league title contenders. AIK and Hammarby meet in a Stockholm derby while Kalmar faces Helsingborg in a southern Swedish showdown. The final quarterfinal pits BK Häcken against Halmstad.


For Malmö, the group stage victory was only step one in what the club promises will be a memorable year. Malmö made a Swedish-record 235 million kronor profit and invested heavily in new players, assembling a squad that new head coach Allan Kuhn believes is ready to compete in Europe. Playing in Group 5, Malmö looked like anything but a world beater as it barely knocked off Superettan side IK Sirius 2-1 on Feb. 16 at Swedbank Arena. The Sky Blues rebounded on Feb. 26 with a 4-1 win over Ängelholms as Jo Inge Berget scored twice to bring his Cup goals tally to four. New signing Vidar Orn Kjartansson scored his first goal for Malmö as did Rasmus Bengtsson, who returned to the club from FC Twente in Holland. Malmö sewed up the group on March 5 when it whipped GIF Sundsvall 4-0 behind a pair of goals from Guillermo Molins, who made his first start for Malmö in nearly a year. Danish international midfielder Anders Christiansen scored his first goal for MFF while Kjartansson also tallied.

Defending league champions IFK Norrköping had a slightly easier time in Group 1. Peking opened with a 4-0 win over Ostersunds on Feb. 20 as Arnor Trautsson, Niklas Bakroth, Emil Kujovic and Joel Einarson all tallied. Norrköping then beat Athletic FC United 1-0 behind a 53rd-minute goal by Kujovic. The league champions needed only a draw on March 5 against Jönköping Södra to advance. Kujovic fired Norrköping in front with a 10th-minute penalty-kick goal while Pawel Chibiko, on loan to Jönköping from Malmö, tied the game. The 1-1 draw gave Peking the group win.

In Group 2, Halmstad emerged as the surprise winner as IFK Göteborg stumbled in its first two matches. The Angels opened with a 1-1 draw against Degerfors, a match IFK striker Tobias Hysen called “a complete disaster.” Göteborg then played to a 1-1 draw with IK Frej Taby, which won promotion to the Superettan last season. Hysen called that match a “disgrace.” Halmstad, meanwhile, registered wins over Degerfors and IF Frej. Göteborg regained a measure of respect with a 3-0 drubbing of Halmstad on March 5 in both teams final group match, but Halmstad had already clinched its spot in the quarterfinals.

AIK cruised to the top of Group 3 as it collected wins in all three of its matches. The Gnaget scratched out a 2-1 win over Varbergs BOIS before trouncing Tenhults IF 6-0 in its second match. Six different players scored for AIK in the win. The Gnaget closed out group play on March 5 with a 2-1 win over Falkenberg.

Kalmar scored a minor upset as it topped fellow Allsvenskan side Elfsborg to take Group 4. Both teams won their opening matches in fairly convincing fashion, with Kalmar beating IK Värnamo 2-1 while Elfsborg dispatched Assyriska 3-2. Kalmar then beat Assyriska 3-1 but Elfsborg faltered against Värnamo, settling for s shock 3-3 draw. Elfsborg fell behind 2-0 only to rally with three straight second-half goals to take a 3-2 lead. Pär Cederqvist, a much-traveled Allsvenskan veteran now toiling in the Superettan, tied the game in the 78th minute and match ended in a deadlock. When Kalmar and Elfsborg met in their final group match March 5, Elfsborg needed a three-goal victory to claim the group and advance. Kalmar only needed a draw to reach the quarters. The match looked destined to end in a scoreless draw when 19-year-old Carl Johansson found the net to give Kalmar a 1-0 win.

Group 6 might have garnered the most attention of the group stage as it featured three teams that call Stockholm home — Syrianska, Djurgarden and Hammarby. As expected, the quarterfinal spot came down to a derby match between DIF and Hammarby. Djurgarden opened with a 2-1 win over Ljungskile while Hammarby could only manage a scoreless draw with Syrianska. Hammarby then beat Ljungskile 4-2 while Syrianska upended DIF 1-0. The victory left Syrianska and Hammarby level on points but Hammarby had a +2 goal difference. Both teams needed a win in their final group match although Syrianska would have to run up the score against Ljungskile to advance. Syrianska did win, beating Ljungskile 1-0, but Hammarby pounded Djurgården 3-1 and advanced to the quarters.

After a slow start, Group 7 proved to be the highest scoring of the eight. Group winner BK Häcken and Brommapojkarna opened the group with a scoreless draw Feb. 20 while FC Trollhättan beat Gefle 2-1. The ho-hum results were nothing compared to the shootouts that came in the next matches. Häcken turned on the class in a 6-2 win over Trollhättan while Gefle beat Bromma 4-2. In the final matches, Häcken again lit up the scoreboard as it blanked Gefle 4-0 while Trollhättan and Bromma played to a 1-1 draw.

Helsingborg won Group 8 in fairly workmanlike fashion. After opening with an impressive 3-1 over GAIS, Helsingborg struggled to get past BK Forward 1-0 in its second match. The two wins left HIF seeking only a draw in its final match against Örebro and when the match ended 1-1, Helsingborg could celebrate its quarterfinal berth. Örebro went into the match with a win and a draw and needed a win to knock Helsingborg off its perch.