EHF Cup countdown, part 16: HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR)
After the independence from Russia, Zaporozhye became a handball stronghold in the Ukraine, with two top clubs qualifying consistantly for European Cup competitions; ZTR for men’s teams and Motor for women’s teams.
But now times have changed, Motor now focus also on the men’s team. Last season they finished second in the Ukrainian league behind champion Dinamo Poltava.
Motor made it to the Group Phase of the newly structured EHF Cup, unlike their domestic rivals Poltava, who first failed in the VELUX EHF Champions League qualification and then in the second round of the EHF Cup.
Motor Zaporozhye easily overcame their qualification barriers against the national champions Haukar Hafnarfjördur of Iceland and Alpla HC Hard of Austria to make it to the Group Phase.
However, Motor hope for much more this season, a berth in the quarter-final and their first Ukrainian title in the domestic competition would satisfy the club.
Club director Gennadii Kasai does not only focus on the results and the sporting improvement by playing the Group Phase of the EHF Cup.
“We expect to gain important experience not only in sport-wise, but also in organisation of top-level matches. We would like to introduce our club in the best way to Europe, to invite more friends and partners and to highlight Ukraine and Zaporozhye as professionals.”
Team captain Mykhalo Tsap is looking forward to facing top players and teams and sees the experiences ahead as useful to the players.
“Our players will try to do our best in order to proceed to quarter-finals in this group. Nevertheless, it will be very useful for all the teams to exchange different experiences against such a big quantity of top players.”
Zaporozhye now can count on help from Russia, as not only coach Nikolay Chigarev has a huge experience at the side of legendary Vladimir Maximov at Chekhovskie Medvedi and the Russian national team, but Alexej Kamanin is one of the most experienced Russian players.
Unfortunately for Motor they have to replace their goalkeeper Valentyn Koshovy after a meniscus injury for the whole Group Stage. At the beginning of the season the club changed the name from “Motor-ZNTU-ZAS” to “Motor” and presented a new club logo.
Three questions to coach Nikolay Chigarev:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Nikolay Chigarev: In order to proceed to the next round, our goal is to gain 60 per cent of the total amount of points available. We can do this only with the help of strict playing, discipline, and work.
What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Nikolay Chigarev: These matches can bring good progress not only for our team and club, but also they can cause a boost to the whole of handball in Ukraine, the people of our country will be able to watch several top-level matches.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Nikolay Chigarev: Rhein Neckar Löwen, Göppingen, Wisla Plock, and Motor for sure.
Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) – Group B
The road to the Group Phase:
Round 2: 30:25, 28:22 against Haukar Hafnarfjördur
Round 3: 27:26, 33:22 against Alpla HC Hard
Coach: Nikolay Chigarev, since 15.05.2011
Newcomers: Valentyn Koshovy (Dinamo Minsk), Mikhail Revin (BGK Meshkova), Kostyantyn Kurilenko, Evgeniy Gurkovsky (both Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau)
Left the club: Vladyslav Ostroushko (Dinamo Minsk), Igor Krivchikov (SKIF (Krasnodar), Alexey Grigoriev (HC St. Petersburg), Alexey Shevchenko (ZNTU-ZAS)
Biggest successes in EHF European Cup competitions:
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 appearance – quarter-finalists 2011/12
EHF Challenge Cup: 2 appearances – Last 16 2010/11, Round 4 2009/10
Ukrainian league: runners-up in 2012
Born on 22 March 1953
As a player, Chigarev was league champion and cup winner in the former USSR with MAI. Later-on he started his coaching career at the side of Vladimir Maximov at Chekhovskie Medvedi.
Born on 04 August 1990
Left wing Ievgen Zhuk was born in Zaporozhye and played for the club Burevistnik in Lugansk, Ukraine before he arrived at Motor. His biggest success was the silver medal in Ukrainian championship. Zhuk scored 22 goals in last season’s Cup Winners’ Cup and 11 goals so far in three EHF Cup games this season.
Born on 09 July 1985
Right back Oleksandr Semikov started his career at ZTR Zaporozhye (Ukraine), before crossing the border to Russia, where he first played for Chekhovskie Medvedi, becoming Russian champion twice, and then for HC St. Petersburg. In 2011 he returned to Zaporozhye, joining Motor and scoring 18 goals in the Cup Winners’ Cup.
Find more information on HC Motor Zaporozhye here
The schedule of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase can be found here
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor