EHF Cup countdown, part 11: SKA Minsk (BLR)
Mironovich at the helm of Minsk for almost 40 years
If you are out for the club with the longest continuity on the bench and the most legendary coach of all 16 group phase participants of the EHF Cup, you definitely cannot miss SKA Minsk.
Since 1976, so in his 40th season, Spartak Mironovich (77) is on the helm of the most traditional Belarusian handball club and former winner of all Soviet and international competitions. Almost all of the players in this competition were not even born when Mironovich took over SKA.
Besides that he was coach of the famous Soviet national team that became Olympic champions in 1988 in Seoul and as EUN team 1992 in Barcelona, before another coaching legend - Vladimir Maximov - took over. Mironovich, former member of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee and Belarusian national team coach, has seen good times and bad times at SKA since he took over.
In the meantime, clubs such as Dinamo Minsk or Meshkov Brest have taken the lead in their league, with SKA last championship season going back to 2002.
But adding fresh blood to the team, SKA rose in the previous years. In 2013, they took their first international trophy since 1990, winning the EHF Challenge Cup. Now, SKA Minsk are the first ever Belarusian club to be part of the group phase of the EHF Cup after failing twice in qualification before.
Seven SKA players were part of the Belarus squad for the EHF EURO 2016, including Viachaslau Saldatsenka, who was – in terms of statistics - the best goalkeeper of the preliminary round in Poland.
And having improved as a team in the previous years, Spartak Mironovich’s goals for him and his team is high: qualification for the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes.
During qualification, the Belarusian runners-up had no problems in remaining victorious four times against Volendam (Netherlands) and the Austrian champions Alpla Hard, arriving from the Champions League qualification.
In Group C, SKA Minsk will face Pfadi Winterthur, Saint-Raphael Var Handball and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg.
What are your expectations for the group phase of the EHF Cup - regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Newcomers: Aliaksandr Padshyvalau (Vityas), Aliaksandr Patsykailik (Gomel), Maksim Lapitski (Kronon)
Left the club: Ivan Matskevich (Steaua, Bucharest), Barys Pukhouski (Motor Zaporozhye), Viktor Zaitsau (St. Petersburg), Kirill Knyazev (Pogon, Szczecin), Yury Lukyanchuk (Riihimäki Cocks), Andrei Kaliarovich (Riihimäki Cocks)
Coach: Spartak Mironovitch (since 1976)
VELUX EHF Champions League records:
EHF Cup records:
Cup Winners’ Cup records:
EHF Challlenge Cup records:
TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
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