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08.01.2016, 17:33
Belarus hope to be competitive in Poland
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EHF EURO COUNTDOWN #10: Following their disappointing 18th place at the World Championship 2015 in Qatar, Belarus are determined to produce a better performance at the EHF EURO 2016
 

Belarus hope to be competitive in Poland

One week out of the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland Belarus is not a team without problems, but they are nevertheless determined to leave a good impression in their neighboring country and make it past the preliminary round from Group B.

The team's strength

At the moment, the biggest strength of Belarus is arguably their head coach. Iouri Chevtsov has a solid reputation in the handball world.

Many years of work in the German Bundesliga have granted him with vast international experience, and the leadership of the Belarusian Handball Federation hit the spot when they appointed Chevtsov national coach back in 2009. Soon after that, Belarus started to regularly take part in European and World championships.

When it comes to players Siarhei Rutenka – even though he is currently without a club – still means a lot for the national team and when the left back is in good shape, opponents have a hard time.

Belarusians are also well-manned on the centre back. Barys Pukhousky from Motor Zaporozhye and Dzmitry Nikulenkau from HC Meshkov Brest are two classy and experienced playmakers with leadership skills.

The team's weakness

The goalkeeping position has been an Achilles' heel of Belarus for many years – and the problem has not been properly solved yet.

The situation has become even worse as Vitaly Charapenka, the experienced goalie from Brest, is injured and may miss the EHF EURO. Ivan Matskevich from Romania's Steaua, is fit, but he has not been consistent enough.

Belarus may also struggle on the right wing. Dzianis Rutenka, the first choice on that position, had to undergo a knee surgery and will miss the EHF EURO. Hence Chevtsov has to rely on either Aleg Astrashapkin, who is more accustomed to the role of a right back, or on Maksim Baranau.

The team's star

The biggest name in Belarus team is obviously Siarhei Rutenka. He may not be at the height of his career at 34, but his huge experience and leadership qualities still make him a key figure.

Belarus are highly dependent on their top scorer Rutenka, but it is hard to say in what shape he will be in Poland.

After leaving Qatari club Lekhwiya in early December, Rutenka has been without a club and lacked competitive games. However, he has been able to concentrate on the national team, which is obviously his current priority. Being a responsible person, Rutenka is perfectly aware of his leadership role.

He is certainly very committed and determined to help his team in the best possible way.

The hidden gem

Belarusians have a talented young generation of the players born in 1994 to 1996. One of the biggest prospects is Artsem Karalek, a line player from SKA Minsk.

This summer, the 19-year-old was one of the key player in the Belarusian team that took a record 6th place at the Junior World Championship in Brazil.

Even before that, the fast-improving youngster made a bright debut in the senior team. In late April, Belarus lost at home against Denmark in the EHF EURO Qualification, but Karalek scored six goals in that match.

After that Karalek has been a regular in Chevtsov's team, helping them to book a ticket to Poland. And now, he wants to demonstrate his talent to the entire handball Europe.  

The outlook

Belarus are certainly not among the favourites of the upcoming EHF EURO. The primary goal of the team is to advance to the main round, and if Chevtsov's men do it, they may be quite satisfied.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ts
 
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