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22.10.2014, 10:16
Belarus want to continue their winning streak
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PREVIEW: The Men's EHF EURO 2016 may become the fourth consecutive international event that Belarus qualify for, and with the first two qualifiers looming the team vows to give everything not to be left out of the final tournament in Poland in the end
 

Belarus want to continue their winning streak

Belarus enter the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification in full strength, with 20 players being nominated for the two upcoming qualifiers by head coach Iouri Chevtsov.

The Belarusians, who haven been drawn to Group 2, play against Bosnia-Herzegovina on 29 October in Minsk, before facing their neighbours from Lithuania on 2 November in Siauliai.

Chevtsov’s team makes no secret out of the fact that they want to qualify for the EHF EURO 2016, which may become the fourth consecutive major international tournament the team qualifies for.

After participating in the World Championship 2013 in Spain and the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, they also qualified for the World Championship 2015 which will take place in January in Qatar.

"Our results clearly show that we have improved a lot over the recent years," centre back Dzmitry Nikulenkau tells ehf-euro.com.

"Previously, we used to reach the final stage of a major tournament once in ten years, and now we have done it three times in a row. Obviously our goal is to continue this winning streak."

Most people think that the favourites of Group 2 are Denmark.

Nikulenkau basically agrees but claims the Danes are not unbeatable:

"We have seen in the Champions League, at World and European Championships that favourites can also lose. An opponent may be stronger technically, but it is possible to beat him with commitment and passion."

Four points are the goal

However, Belarus will face Denmark only next spring. At the moment, they are fully focused on the two upcoming battles.

"The first games are very important for the general strategy. And we want to prepare for them in the best possible way," says the head coach Iouri Chevtsov.

"Of course, we want to get four points from these matches. However, the opponents are not easy. Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Iceland to qualify for the World Championship. The Lithuanians have many players who play in Europe - in France, Spain - and they are especially good on home court," says Dzmitry Nikulenkau.

The 30-year-old Nikulenkau is one of nine representatives of HC Meshkov Brest in the national team.

It is in general, that Belarus very much rely on players from the domestic league. Their squad contains only two foreign-based players: team captain Siarhei Rutenka from Spain’s FC Barcelona and Barys Pukhouski who plays for Csurgo in Hungary.

These two still have commitments at their clubs and therefore will join the Belarusian team only at the beginning of the next week.

Meanwhile, all other 18 players have been training together in Minsk since Monday.

Aliaksandr Tsitou, the 28-year-old line player from Motor Zaporozhye, is missing from the squad. Having been sidelined for a few months due to injury, he is not in his best shape yet.

However, Tsitou and seven other players make up a stand-by list. “We definitely count on Aliaksandr in the future. But we want him to get more game practice with his club before the World Championship.

However, in case of emergency he is ready to join us now,” says Iouri Chevtsov.

The Belarusian squad for Rounds 1 and 2 of the Men’s EUF EURO 2016 Qualification

Goalkeepers: Ivan Matskevich (SKA Minsk), Ivan Maroz (HC Gomel), Vitali Charapenka (HC Meshkov Brest)

Wing players: Ivan Brouka (SKA Minsk), Andrei Yurynok (Vityaz), Maksim Baranau (HC Meshkov Brest), Dzianis Rutenka (HC Meshkov Brest)

Back court players: Viktar Zaitsau (SKA Minsk), Aliaksei Shinkel (SKA Minsk), Dzmitry Kamyshyk (HC Meshkov Brest), Siarhei Rutenka (Barcelona), Aleh Astrashapkin (HC Meshkov Brest), Siarhei Shylovich (HC Meshkov Brest), Kiryl Kniazeu (SKA Minsk), Aliaksandr Bachko (SKA Minsk), Dzmitry Nikulenkau (HC Meshkov Brest), Barys Pukhouski (Csurgo)

Line players: Maxim Babichev (HC Meshkov Brest), Vyachaslau Shumak (HC Meshkov Brest), Mikhail Niazhura (HC Gomel).


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ts
 
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