EHF European Cup

Meshkov Brest ease past opening EHF Cup rivals

Žika Bogdanović

Meshkov Brest ease past opening EHF Cup rivals

Two victories over Conversano saw Belarusian runners-up Meshkov Brest begin their EHF Cup campaign in successful style last weekend, but 38-19 and 34-23 victories over their Italian rivals in Round 1 was just the beginning for the ambitious outfit.

Their next matches in October will see Meshkov Brest play much harder opponents in Nexe from Našice, who have been the Croatian runners-up four times in a row.

“Two wins over the Italians didn’t give us chance to show what we’re capable of, but we know our goal – to reach the EHF Cup Group Phase,” said Serbian Milan Dukić, right winger for Meshkov Brest who is one of six players in the team from the Balkans.

“But hopes of reaching the Group Phase means that I expect good results against the Croats, who are also our rivals in the SEHA League.”

Dukić, who has played for the Serbian national team and also used to play for Radnički Kragujevac (Serbia) and Borac Banja Luka (BIH), is settling well into life with Meshkov Brest.

“It is much more easier to adapt to a new country and society when you have “your” people with whom you can make closer relationships, drink coffee, share your emotions in your own language,” he explained.

“In general, there is not too much differences between Belarus and Serbia. It is a little bit colder, but nothing to be worried!”

Belarus are making huge efforts to become a major player in world handball, and the country’s two biggest team, Dinamo Minsk (VELUX EHF Champions League) and Meshkov Brest have great ambitions. And the national team will play at World Championship 2013 in Spain, after head coach Yuri Shevtsov and his players eliminated Slovakia in front of 13,000 spectators in Minsk Arena last June.

“In general the team is very well organised,” added Dukić. “The financial situation is stable and if I tell you that the main sponsor is Gaszprom, then you will understand that there is “no winter” here.

“Of course, besides the EHF Cup Group Phase, we want to be a tough rival to Dinamo Minsk in domestic championship. But there are only six teams competing this season, so we will try to compensate a lack of strong matches with competing in the SEHA League with Balkan teams.”

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