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18.03.2015, 10:40
Torgovanov: "Our only focus is the EHF EURO"
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: Dmitrii Torgovanov, Russia's new men's national team coach, will face his first challenge when the qualification resumes at the end of April

» »2016 Men's Adults
»Qualification 2
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Torgovanov: "Our only focus is the EHF EURO"

It is common occurence in modern day handball that handball coaches coach a national team and a club at the same time. And Dmitrii Torgovanov, who took over Russia's men's team in February is no exception to this.

Germany coach Dagur Sigurdsson also sits on the Füchse Berlin bench, Talant Dujshebaev trains Hungary and KS Vive Tauron Kielce and Manuel Cadenas is courtside at Spain and Orlen Wisla Plock.

And Torgovanov, who won Olympic, World Championship and EHF EURO gold as a player, is a well-known face from the EHF Cup at which he coaches St. Petersburg HC.

Since former Russian head coach Oleg Kuleshov resigned, Torgovanov - together with his former national teammate Lev Voronin - is in charge to bring back success after Russia finished only 19th at the World Championship 2015.

In this exclusive "Interview of the Week" Torgovanov talks about the difficult hunt for Russian talents, the upcoming EHF EURO Qualification, the hard task to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and the importance of international matches for his St. Petersburg players.

eurohandball.com: Were you surprised when you were offered the role as Russia's head coach?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: I was approached by the president of our federation and received support from former national team coach Vladimir Maximov – and then I said 'yes'! I told the federation that I'm ready to take over this job with one demand from my side: that I will remain coach of St. Petersburg and will not only be responsible for the national team. They agreed.

eurohandball.com: Your assistant coach is Lev Voronin. How important is it to have someone at your side with whom you played in the national team for a long time?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: We were teammates for more than ten years, so we know each other very well. We worked together perfectly on the court and will do so hopefully on the bench as well.

eurohandball.com: In 2013 the Russian men’s team was one of the biggest surprises at the World Championship, impressing with very modern handball and reaching the quarter-final. Two years later, at Qatar 2015, Russia ranked 19th. How did this happen?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: It is not my style to criticise or to analyse the work of my predecessor Oleg Kuleshov in public. I have my opinion, but I only expressed it internally. One thing I can say: If we win the preliminary round matches against Poland (25:26) and Germany (26:27) and do not lose them narrowly, everything would have been different.

We would have advanced to the knockout stage. Eventually Poland took bronze and Germany qualified for the Olympic qualification tournaments – a clear proof that we were in the toughest of all groups.

eurohandball.com: Your first official matches as Russian coach will be the EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers against Hungary at the end of April. How will you prepare the team and how will you select your players?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: We will invite all potential players from Russian clubs for a one week training camp at the end of March. Unfortunately, we cannot invite those players, who are contracted by clubs abroad.  But Lev Voronin and I will follow their performance. Then we will decide whom to select.

eurohandball.com: Former national team coach Vladimir Maximov mentioned already some years ago that the number of Russian handball talents is decreasing. Do you agree?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, people were afraid of the future. The number of newborns dramatically decreased as the people had a lot of problems. Hence the number of talents born from 1990 to 1995 is small. Now we see those young handball players born in 1996 and 1997 rising up the ranks. There are more of them, but definitely still fewer than when I was young.

eurohandball.com: Is Maximov your role model as a coach?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: He was only my coach in the national team, on club level I had other brilliant coaches, who inspired me like Iouri Chevtsov, Martin Schwalb or Velimir Klaijic. So it was not only Maximov.

eurohandball.com: Since you are the coach at St. Petersburg you face Maximov and his club Chekhovskie Medvedi in the Russia Superleague. Are these matches special for you?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: They were when I made my first steps as a coach, now it is normal. It's always my special aim to beat Medvedi.

eurohandball.com: After four consecutive participations in the VELUX EHF Champions League, St. Petersburg play their first EHF Cup season. How important is this international experience for your players?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: Extremely important! Every international match brings our team, our players forward as you cannot gain this experience in the Russian league. Every country has its own style of playing and if you face different styles, players learn. Furthermore the general level of the Russian league is not that high, we do not have that many talents and that many stars, so we do not have so many intense matches.

eurohandball.com: But is the quality of those players high enough for the national team to qualify for the EHF EURO 2016 and the Olympic Games in Rio?

Dmitrii Torgovanov: Every athlete wants to be part of Olympic Games. We must be optimistic, but we are also realistic that the chance to qualify for Rio is quite small after World Championship ranking. Our last chance is the EHF EURO 2016.

It is a hard task for Lev Voronin and me, as we started our mission in the middle of the season – and to be honest: Currently we only focus on the qualification for the EHF EURO 2016, so our current plan ends in July. But it would be strange to have Olympic Games without the participation of Russia. 


TEXT: Björn Pazen / me / ts
 
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