NEWS REPORT: After reaching two consecutive final tournaments, reaching the World Championship is the minumum goal for Iouri Chevtsov's men
Belarusians have their reasons to be optimistic
For Belarusian clubs, the season is already over. But the men’s national team now faces a very important challenge. In the 2015 World Championship play-off, Belarus will compete with Montenegro. The first game will be played on 8 June in Podgorica, while the reverse fixture in Minsk is scheduled for 15 June.
Belarusian handball has been on the rise in recent years, which is reflected by the national team results. The team led by Iuri Chevtsov are seeking participation at the third major tournament in a row. Belarus took part at the 2013 World Championship and EHF EURO 2014, where they finished in the 15th and 12th place respectively. And now, the eastern European side hope to beat their Balkan rivals and secure a spot at the tournament which will start next January in Qatar.
For Belarus, Montenegro is not a mysterious opponent. The two teams have already played this year in Denmark. On that occasion Chevtsov’s team were better at the group stage — 29:23. The victory in Brondby helped the Belarusians to advance to the main round, while for Montenegro; the defeat meant the end of the road.
Obviously Iouri Chevtsov keeps positive memories about that match. At the same time, the Belarus coach expects the opponents to be tough: “In this case you can say that the draw could have been worse. But we should not relax. In the recent years, Sweden and Germany missed major events after losing to Montenegro. Besides, our opponents are definitely looking for revenge. They will be very concentrated and motivated.”
Since Monday, Belarusians have been training in Minsk with a full squad, bar one major loss — Aliaksandr Tsitou, who plays for Motor Zaporozhye, has been sidelined since January due to a knee injury.
Most of the players represent the Belarusian league, which has experienced quite a turbulent season. Dinamo Minsk, the champion of the five previous years and regular participant of the VELUX Champions League, at the end of February withdrew from the national league and ceased to exist due to lack of funding.
All players were given the status of free agents, and three of them — Dzmitry Nikulenkau, Maxim Babichev and Dzianis Rutenka — signed contracts with HC Meshkov Brest. They helped the club to win both the Belarusian league and the national cup.
Chevtsov hopes that these players will have a remarkable role in the upcoming double-header. The coach also lays his special hopes on the players that represent foreign clubs. For example, Barys Pukhouski from Hungarian team Csurgo, Dzmitry Chistabayeu from Permskie Medvedi, and, of course, Siarhei Rutenka from Barcelona.
The Spanish champion had a disappointing weekend, having lost to Flensburg at the VELUX EHF FINAL4. However, Rutenka hopes that national team performances and results will lift his spirits again.
Meanwhile, Iouri Chevtsov seems to be quite happy with the match order against Montenegro: “In such cases, I like playing second games at home. So once again I can say that it could have been worse.”
The Belarusian squad:
Goalkeepers: Vitali Charapenka (HC Meshkov Brest), Ivan Matskevich (SKA Minsk), Mikalai Zianko (Victoria Regia), Dzmitry Patotski (HC Meshkov Brest).
Wing playerss: Ivan Brouka (SKA Minsk), Vitali Kazhaneuski (Victoria Regia), Dzianis Rutenka (HC Meshkov Brest), Maksim Baranau (HC Meshkov Brest)
Line players: Mikhail Niazhura (Victoria Regia), Maxim Babichev (HC Meshkov Brest), Viachaslau Shumak (HC Meshkov Brest), Yury Lukyanchyk (SKA Minsk).
Back court: Dzmitry Kamyshyk (HC Meshkov Brest), Siarhei Rutenka (Barcelona), Anton Prakapenia (KS SPR Chrobry), Viktar Zaitsau (SKA Minsk), Siarhei Shylovich (HC Meshkov Brest), Aleh Astrashapkin (HC Meshkov Brest), Raman Lukashuk (SKA Minsk), Artsiom Skryba (Victoria Regia), Barys Pukhouski (Csurgo), Dzmitry Nikulenkau (HC Meshkov Brest), Kiryl Kniazeu (SKA Minsk), Aliaksandr Bachko (SKA Minsk), Evgeny Semenov (Permskie medvedi), Dzmitry Chistabayeu (Permskie medvedi), Aliaksei Shynkel (Victoria Regia), Andrei Kaliarovich (Gomel).
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cor
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