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18.03.2016, 11:11
Pukhouski: Best tactics for these games is just to enjoy them
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FEATURE: The Belarusian playmaker is the driving force behind the successful performance of HC Motor Zaporozhye in the VELUX EHF Champions League and his team will rely also on his "Hungarian handball knowledge" before the Last 16 tie with Veszprem.
 

Pukhouski: Best tactics for these games is just to enjoy them

This season, it is hard to imagine HC Motor Zaporozhye without Barys Pukhouski. The 29-year-old Belarusian playmaker plays a key role in the Ukrainian team that has already reached the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

His importance for the team was especially visible in the Group C+D play-off against Naturhouse La Rioja. Pukhouski scored ten goals in Spain and added the same number at home.

No wonder that after the second leg he was named playmaker of the round at the Best 7 of the VELUX EHF Champions League. With 86 goals, he takes the fifth place among the top scorers of the tournament. But for Pukhouski, the team's success is much more important.

"It was our victory that gave me the strongest emotions. Being playmaker of the round is just a pleasant bonus," he told ehfCL.com.

In the Last 16, Motor are going to face MVM Veszprém — the current champion of Hungary, the country where Pukhouski played from 2013 to 2015 for Csurgói KK.

Therefore, the Belarusian knows the opponent very well: "Veszprém are a top team with world-class players on every position. Their goal is to win the EHF Champions League. But we are not giving up."

And he goes on: "Probably they have more quality, but we are not whipping boys. If we play our game and use our trumps, we have a chance. One of the best tactics for these games is just to enjoy them. And this experience will help in the next season."

A step forward

Hungary was actually the first foreign station in Pukhouski's club career. Born in Malaryta, Barys started playing for SKA Minsk, where he stayed until 2009.

Then he joined domestic rivals HC Dinamo Minsk and won the national championship three times with that side. But in 2012, after some disagreements with Dinamo management, he came back to SKA. The year after Pukhouski helped them winning the Men's Challenge Cup.

Afterwards, the Belarusian played in Hungary, but stayed there less than two seasons. In the spring of 2015, his contract with Csurgói KK was terminated. "I had problems with the coach, and the language barrier was also a negative factor," recalls the center back.

Once again Pukhouski signed a contract with SKA Minsk, but his third spell at this team did not last long. They came up short in the Belarusian league superfinal, losing to HC Meshkov Brest. Soon after that, the 29-year-old opted for his luck abroad again, this time in Ukraine.

Some experts in his home country expressed their doubts about the player's choice. Belarusian ex-international Andrei Sinyak, who played much of his career in the German Bundesliga, said that playing in Ukraine would lead to degradation.

Yet, Pukhouski strongly disagrees with his fellow countryman. "I think I made a step forward. Playing in the Champions League — can you call it degradation? OK, maybe a Ukrainian top club does not sound as big as a Bundesliga team. But let us be objective, an economic crisis storms all over Europe, and it is hard to find a good place being a foreigner," he says.

Family interests

The absence of a language barrier and family interests were the key factors for the Belarusian when he signed with HC Motor Zaporozhye.

"I am not ashamed to confess that I always consider my wife's opinion while choosing a place to continue my career. If I take a lucrative offer, but eventually she feels discomfort and lacks everyday communication, the atmosphere at home will be tense, which will negatively influence my game.
In Zaporozhye, my wife is happy, she feels positive. Nothing reminds us of the war in Ukraine here, life is going on and shows that we made a right choice," says Pukhouski.

The Ukrainian league is not very strong, which makes the VELUX EHF Champions League especially important for Motor.

Pukhouski gladly agrees: "When I look back at my career, I think it was overall not poor, but previously I played in the Champions League just once, with Dinamo Minsk. This tournament means everything for our team, all players are super motivated."

Motor want to become even better in the near future and they are eager to keep their best players. Last week, Pukhouski signed a new one-year contract with the Ukrainian side. Ambitious Zaporozhye bosses dream of winning the European top flight in a few years and they rely on their Belarusian playmaker as one of the biggest contributors to such a huge success.

Watch the VELUX EHF Champions League Best 7 with Barys Pukhouski as centre back of the round.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / es, br
 
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