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08.06.2015, 10:11
Double-header in Minsk, then historic game in Moscow
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NEWS FEATURE: Sergei Gorbok returns to Russia’s squad for the EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers against Ukraine and Portugal
 

Double-header in Minsk, then historic game in Moscow

Since the implementation of EHF EURO events in 1994, Russia’s men’s team has never been absent – and coaches Dmitri Torgovanov and Lev Voronin are sure this record will continue with a ticket to Poland.

As the first leg of the qualification matches against Ukraine was postponed due to the political situation, the EHF decided that both matches will be carried out on neutral ground in Minsk, Belarus, within 24 hours, on Wednesday and Thursday (10/11 June).

"A wise and good decision," says Vladimir Maximov, legendary former coach of the Russian men’s team and now on the federation’s board.

On Sunday June 14, the qualification phase will conclude for the Russians (currently two points on their account) with their home match against Portugal (four points) – a historic match, as for the first time in 13 years, Russia play an official game in their capital Moscow, in the CSKA complex.

Three big games ahead

The goals are set for the upcoming matches:

"Our task is very clear – it is a must for us to win both matches in Minsk and the final one in Moscow. We will not start calculating what can happen in the Portugal vs Hungary match as we only look at ourselves and do not expect help from anybody else," says assistant coach Lev Voronin.

His team lost both encounters with the already-qualified Hungarians in April and May, but Russia’s situation at the moment is better:

WThough we had a high number of debutants in our squad to weaken our situation, we did not get lost. Our defence has worked well for a long period, which makes me feel confident that we will book our ticket to Poland," says Voronin.

An important period for Russia’s national teams

Torgovanov and Voronin held an intense preparation session in the Olympic Sports Centre in Novogorsk – as the women’s national team did ahead of their World Championship play-offs against Germany.

Both teams were visited by new president of the Russian Handball Federation Sergey Shishkarev and other representatives of the federation. Shishkarev was elected in an Extraordinary Congress in April, after his forerunner Vladimir Neljubin resigned in February following the disappointing results of the national teams.

"It is our dream to be part of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with both teams," said Shishkarev prior to the busy week of international games, with five matches (three for the men's, two for the women's team) in three countries within seven days.

The new president had long talks with the coaches and players in Novogorsk to discuss the current situation of handball in Russia prior to the decisive weeks.

Small squad changes

Left back Sergei Gorbok is back on track after his injury break, but Pavel Atman is out for the matches against Ukraine. Atman is competing with his club El-Jaish in Qatar’s Emir Cup, which ends on June 12. The left back may be an option for the final match against Portugal in Moscow.

"We all hope for big support from our fans in the capital," says left wing and team captain Timur Dibirov.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg / ts
 
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