EHF Cup countdown, part 16: HC Zomimak-M (MKD)
Newcomers embracing the challenge
For the first time there are three Macedonian men’s clubs taking part in the crucial stages of the two top European Cup competitions. While Metalurg and Vardar made it to the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League, HC Zomimak from Strumica entered the Group Phase of the EHF Cup in their first European Cup season.
After an away defeat at Aarhus, they clinched their berth for the Group Phase with a clear win on home court after eliminating Tel Aviv in their first qualification round.
Now the third ranked team of the Macedonian league will face Montpellier, Lisbon and Skjern in their group. At Strumica, they hope that their journey will not end in the Group Phase, but earliest in the quarter-finals in club’s 60th anniversary, for which a new mascot, ‘Risko’, was created.
Coach Dimitar Pandev, who is also acting as the manager of Zomimak, feels proud to have come so far.
“It is a great honour to have a spot in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup and to stand head to head with some of the best handball teams in Europe. This is the first time in our history that the team competes in any European Cup and I am convinced that the lack of experience will be compensated for by the motivation to get the best out of these games,” said Pandev.
Team captain Kiril Kolev is eagerly awaiting the starting whistle of the Group Phase.
“We are very happy that we made it to the Group Phase of the EHF Cup. This was the goal which we had set prior to the beginning of the season and we are very proud that we managed to fulfill it.
“We can't wait for the games to start. Our opponents are teams with great international experience, but that doesn't mean that we are going to surrender. Instead, we are going to fight until the end,” promised the goalkeeper.
Three questions to coach Dimitar Pandev:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Dimitar Pandev: We got the opponents that we wanted before the draw. These are teams that had big impact on European handball history. Maybe we lack experience, but team spirit, togetherness and the wish to fight will give the best image about us in front of handball in Europe.
What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Dimitar Pandev: The fact that we made it to the Group Phase of the EHF Cup is the biggest award for our investment in the team. This motivates us to continue with hard work and is proof that we are heading in the right direction. It is a big success for a small team and we are very proud that we made the biggest success that a team from Strumica has had. For me personally, this is a hugely satisfying and gives us motivation to continue with the hard work in my coaching career.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Dimitar Pandev: Hannover, Füchse Berlin, Montpellier and Tatran Presov are my favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals.
HC Zomimak-M (MKD)
The road to the group phase:
Round 2: HC Zomimak-M – Maccabi Tyrec Tel Aviv 26:26, 30:23
Newcomers: Stefan Terzic (on loan from Vardar), Kire Mitrevski (HC Pelister)
Left the club: Rade Stojanovich (Drammen, Norway), Igor Milosavljevich
Coach: Dimitar Pandev (since June 2013)
First participation in EHF European Cup competitions
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
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