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01.12.2015, 15:57
Russian stars returning just in time for Torgovanov
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EHF EURO INSIGHTS: Dmitry Torgovanov appears to have lured a number of big names back to the international setup and is forming a team capable of making an impact in Poland
 

Russian stars returning just in time for Torgovanov

Russia coach Dmitry Torgovanov has been making the team his own since he took charge following a disappointing 2015 World Championship.

EHF EURO 2016 will be the first big tournament and the first major test for the Torgovanov’s team.

The biggest loss for the side is the painful injury to Alexander Dereven. The Vardar left-back is out for six months due to a cruciate ligament rupture and definitely  will miss the event in Poland.

However, it is not a completely hopeless situation for the coach, as Sergei Gorbok and newcomer Azat Valiullin, rapidly progressing  at German club Eisenach, look strong in the key back court position.

Right-back Sergei Shelmenko looks like the obvious first choice at the moment and has the experienced 30 - year-old Konstantin Igropulo ready as cover. The new coach has not yet attracted him to games for the national team, but Torgovanov said that he is watching Konstantin’s performances for club side KIF Kolding Kobenhavn and holds him in reserve.

Wisla Plock’s Dmitry Zhitnikov is in prolific form for his club and should command the centre back position, just ahead of the talented Paul Atman from Meshkov Brest. Both are versatile players and can fill in at left back if necessary.

Vardar stars ready to combine

The wings of Russian team looked well prepared, led by Timur Dibirov. The Vardar left wing has already notched 48 goals in the VELUX EHF Champions League and will be sure to do some damage alongside club teammate Gorbok on the international stage.

Daniel Shishkarev is making his mark on the right wing for the Macedonian club and Torgovanov can count on him, while still on the hunt for reinforcement on the wings.

"The coaching staff is trying to bring Dmitrii Kovalev back, who lately has not been attracted to the national team. With this in mind, the wings of the Russian team look valuable," says Russian journalist and handball commentator Artem Shmelkov

The choice of goalkeeper may cause a problem for the head coach as the team is currently lacking a clearly marked no.1.

Focusing on the last matches, Dmitrii Torgovanov relied on Victor Kireev, who began to be involved in the national team recently and will be in contention alongisde Vadim Bogdanov and Nikolai Sorokin.

In order to strengthen the position of the game on the line, Torgovanovu may need the help of experienced players.

"Veteran Mikhail Chipurin should come to help, but I do not know in what condition he is now. I have not seen him since he moved from Vardar. He had a slight delay before playing with Ivry in France, because there were problems with the registration of his work visa.

“Gleb Calarasi is playing at a high level, but needs to be protected. Perhaps someone to take a purely defensive role," adds Shmelkov.

Chasing second place

Russia find themselves in Group D, which is certain to be tough to progress from.

EHF EURO 2014 runners-up Denmark catch the eye immediately and they are clear favourites of the group. In addition matches against Hungary and Montenegro in the hunt for the main round spots could go either way.

Russia met with Hungary in the qualifiers, suffering two four-goal defeats. Montenegro qualified as the best third place team, but this will not cause their rivals to underestimate a team full of promising young players, led by Fahrudin Melić.

“Denmark looks invincible, but against Montenegro and Hungary we can and must take the points. There is a task well within powers for Russian team to reach the next round, but against the three best teams in Group C (Spain, Sweden, Germany, Slovenia) we have little chance," claims Shmelkov

However, we can be sure that the Russian team will make every effort to win. At stake is a route to Rio 2016 and this event is the last chance to book a ticket for April’s qualification groups.

Prior to the event, Russia will play against teams of Egypt (December 26), Belarus (27 December), and Latvia (December 28) in Latvia, before heading to Poland.


TEXT: Filipp Kolotushkin / cor
 
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