20201001 Presov Rabek
EHF European League

Can a revamped Presov put on a show?

Brian Campion

Domestically, the Slovakian champions are untouchable with 15 national titles. However, on the international stage, they have struggled.

Could the European League be the perfect platform for their revitalized squad to break this trend?

  • head coach Slavko Goluza has been in the job since 2017
  • the club have had 16 appearances in the EHF Champions League
  • core players Stranovsky, Lapajne, and Urban have left the club
  • players from Brazil, Cuba, Tunisia, Russia, Ukraine and Portugal make up the squad

Burning question – Can Goluza strike the balance between home-grown and international talent?

Head coach Slavko Goluza has been hard at work researching, scouting and signing talent from abroad ahead of this season - sticking to his diverse locker room strategy of years gone by. 

Coach Goluza said goodbye to Slovakian talent Lukas Urban, who signed for Chartres after a strong outing in the EHF Champions League last season (35 goals). But Goluza is far from lacking options with five official left backs. Team captain, Oliver Rabek, Slovenian national team player Nino Grzentic will likely be the main driving force here and young Tomas Recicar, Jakub Kravcak, will be fighting for court time this season.

There have been big changes on the line. Vucko and Djeric have parted ways with the club so Goluza has only one “official” line player this season in Tunisian Jaballah who signed in the summer. But Russian, Roman Tsarapkin, who has done several jobs in the past in both the back court and on the line, will likely share court time with the Tunisian.

The new-look right back position with Anouar Ben Abdallah making his way from Tunisia for his first stint abroad and Brazilian, Guilherme Linhares de Souza, will also need time to gel.

The club has now built up quite the Portuguese-speaking department with right wing Nuno Santos (POR), goalkeeper Marcos Colodeti and centre back Pedro Pacheco (BRA), all putting pen to paper over the summer.

Can Goluza make bring his new-look international locker room together in time? And in the meanwhile, make sure revamped positions like the line and right back will be firing on all cylinders for the start of the European League? It is almost time to find out.

Signature players

Captain fantastic – Oliver Rabek

A Tatran Presov player through and through, Rabek has been representing the club on the international stage since as early as 2012 in the EHF Cup.  Since then he has been a key feature in the Slovakian side’s backcourt. His bread-and-butter game is taking the ball on at speed and unleashing shots.

While Rabek is not known for any extraordinary athleticism, the 204cm-tall shooter is known for his sheer physicality and reliability in at both ends of the court. With last season’s captain Martin Stranovsky departing, Rabek is the perfect man to lead Presov into the European League.

New blood - Jihed Jaballah

There will be no slow start for the Tunisian international as he is the only out-and-out line player in the Presov squad this season. Presumably, he will share the role with the versatile Tsarapkin who has played well on the line when deployed there.

He will need to settle and find his form quickly and can expect a lot of court time this season for Presov. Nicknamed the Gladiator, Jaballah signed along with fellow national team player Anouar Ben Abdallah who plays right back.

The magician - Igor Chupryna

The Ukrainian national team goalkeeper will form the goalkeeping duo with new Brazilian signing Marcos Colodeti after Croat Mario Cvitkovic made his was to Bern. Chupryna is nicknamed ‘The Magician’ by teammates and local media in Slovakia and all you need to do is check out one of his highlight clips to see why.

Chupryna has some of the most unusual and spectacular saves you will see. You will be sure to see him feature in top saves compilations for the European League this season. Bring that magic, Chupryna!

A season to remember

We go back to the 2004/05 season for Presov’s last really big night on the European stage.

And in their opening Group H tie of the EHF Champions League they shocked SG Flensburg by taking an unexpected draw (25:25) - the only points the German side dropped.

From there they saw off Croatian side RK Metkovic with a young Ivan Cupic with two comfortable wins. But SG had learned their lessons from their first leg winning 38:30.

So, it was the all-important ties against HC Banik Karvina. Having lost their first encounter (25:22) to the Czech side, the pressure was on for in the last match day. It was simple: they needed the win to progress.

Presov opened the game with their best performance of the group phase, taking a massive 21:12 after just the first 30 minutes. In the second period, the Czech home side got their game going and narrowed the gap but, in the end, the 11 goals from Presov’s Rastislav Tabacko were just too much and they ran out winners, 32:29.

And for the first time in their history, the club had made it to the EHF Champions League Last 16. The giants of THW Kiel, with Lövgren, Fritz and Ahlm and many more, were too much for them in the knock-out games (winning 38:32 and 41:25), but it will always be the season for Presov in Europe.

Arrivals and departures

Arrived: Lucijan Fizuleto (Krems), Nuno Santos (SC Horta), Pavel Caballero Hernández (SC Horta), Jihed Jaballah (Kristianstad), Guilherme Linhares de Souza (Borac Banja Luka), Marcos Colodeti (Pinheiros), Anouar Ben Abdallah (Etoile Sportive du Sahel H.C.)

Left the club: Leon Vucko (Strasbourg), Mario Cvitkovic (Bern), Janus Lapajne (Kriens), Lukas Urban (Chartres), Rares Marian Fodorean, Javier Munoz (AIX), Titouan Afanou Gatine (Chartres), Ognjen Djeric (-), Martin Stranovsky (Pick Szeged)

Past achievements

EHF Champions League records:

Participations: 16
Last 16 (1): 2004/05
Last 32 (1): 1993/94
Group Phase (4): 2010/11, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2018/19, 2019/20
Group Matches (3): 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09
Qualification (6): 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2017/18

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Quarter-final: 2011/12

Cup Winners' Cup:
Quarter-final: 2005/06

Slovak league:
15 titles (2004, 2005, 2007-2019)

Slovak cup:
15 titles

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