NEWS REPORT: In 2014 and 2015 Russian beach handball powerhouse “Ekaterinodar” Krasnodar won the EHF Champions Cup and there is no doubt about their ambitions for the 2016 edition starting on Thursday
“Ekaterinodar” aim for the EHF Champions Cup three-peat
The EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup and Russian side “Ekaterinodar” Krasnodar is a combination that just fits.
For the past two years, the Russian side travelled to Gran Canaria to participate in beach handball's Champions League – on both occasions they returned home with the gold medal.
In 2016 “Ekaterinodar” aim for their third title, an EHF Champions Cup three-peat, and the team from Krasnodar has proven already that they have the capability to do so.
Once again they won the Russian domestic championship and internationally they came second at the ebt Finals, their sixth medal following one second and four third places in the past, losing only to Greek side G.A.S Kilkis Akropolis in the final.
Roman Kalashnikov was the team's best and the tournament's third best scorer with 73 points at the ebt Finals in Thessaloniki.
“There’s no turning back. We have the fighting spirit, the team is currently in training, we will arrive in Spain on 2 November.
“This is a short tournament, it is beach handball and what is important here is a little bit of luck, the experience of the players and the skill that we have earned in previous years,” says Kalashnikov about “Ekaterinodar's” ambitions at the EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup 2016 (3 to 6 November, all matches streamed live on youtube.com/ehfTV)
At the 2015 edition he became the tournament's top scorer with 143 points.
Going all the way with Russian spirit
In the preliminary round “Ekaterinodar” face HEI Skaering (Denmark), TSHV Camelot HS1 (Netherlands), BM Playa Ciudad de Malaga (Spain), Orosházi FKSE Hír-Sat (Hungary) and BHC 1898 (Switzerland).
"The main rivals in the group stage, I think, will be the teams from Denmark and Hungary. Also BM Playa Ciudad de Malaga, our long-time rivals, will be hard to play against because of their playing style, their activeness and good defence. There are no weak teams at this tournament,” says Kalashnikov.
“It is neccessary to rank as high as possible in the group. One year ago, I said that our first aim is to reach the quarter-finals and I can say so again this year.
But of course we want to defend the title. The Russian spirit and the experience on the international arena - these are the qualities that should help us.”
What should also help them, is the fact that the team will arrive on Gran Canaria with arguably its strongest line-up.
Igor Nekludov, who missed the EHF Champions Cup 2015 due to a knee injury, has returned to the team.
Roman Valyakin and Pavel Kiyashko will share the time on the court as goalkeepers.
One of the team key players, Evgeny Svestula, is quite a versatile player and seems to be ready to play both in defence and attack.
In addition, “Ekaterinodar” have already started to include up and coming talents of Russian beach handball.
For example, the players of the junior national team, 20-year-old Egor Kochura and 19-year-old German Manukol received more playing time this season and are gradually becoming important parts of the team.
Newcomer Konstantin Vinokur should help the team in defence. And, of course, “Ekaterinodar” will be led by team captain Roman Kalashnikov.
TEXT: Filipp Kolotushkin / ts
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