Motor committed to grabbing their chance
At the start of their eighth successive campaign in the EHF Champions League, the Ukrainian champions hope to show more stability and have positive results in the top-flight competition.
- became Ukrainian champions for the eighth consecutive season in 2019/20
- in the European top flight, failed to progress to the Last 16 in 2019/20, as they finished bottom of group B
- five players left the squad over the summer, and are replaced by eight newcomers
- coached by Gintaras Savukinas, who took his position in February 2020
Most important question: Will Motor prove that they belong in the top level?
After a turbulent last season, when Motor changed three coaches and failed to reach the EHF Champions League Last 16, the Ukrainian side are looking for more stability.
Returning to the continental top flight is a great opportunity for the Zaporozhye-based side, and now their aim is to prove that they deserve to play at such a high level.
However, it will not be easy for head coach Gintaras Savukinas, whose main task is to improve the defensive game.
Over the summer, Motor changed quite a number of players, but it is not clear if the renewed side can take a step forward. Last season, the team was too dependent on key players such as Barys Pukhouski and Aidenas Malasinskas, and one of the coach’s goals is to bring more balance to the squad.
Under the spotlight: Zakhar Denisov
The 30-year-old is the captain of not only Motor, but also the Ukraine national team, after making his debut at the EHF EURO 2020. On a club level, the Kiev-born left wing started his career at Portovik Yuzhny before moving to Motor in 2014.
In Zaporozhye, Denisov has gained international experienced and matured as a player, which resulted in his recognition as the Best Player of Ukraine in 2019. A natural leader, Denisov is expected to demonstrate his best game in Motor’s new European campaign.
How they rate themselves
"It is valuable experience of playing in Europe, this is the prestige of the club. To be in the top 16 of Europe, this is a test of the team’s capabilities, because there are teams of different levels in the EHF Champions League. We will get experience, test opportunities and strive for better results,” says club manager Olympii Pokatov.
Captain Zakhar Denisov agrees: “Our biggest motivation this season is the fact we got into the EHF Champions League. We understand that onсe the team has such a chance, it must be used at 200 per cent, and we have to show that we really deserve to be in the top 16 clubs of Europe.”
Did you know?
In the course of the last season, Motor had as many as three head coaches. Mykola Stepanets started the season, before Rostislav Lanevic replaced him in November and finally current coach Savukinas took over in February.
What the numbers say
In the 2019/20 EHF Champions League season, Motor’s Pukhouski scored 74 goals, just one fewer than the scoring chart leader, Hugo Descat from Montpellier.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Ivan Maroz (SKA Minsk), Vyacheslav Bokhan (SKA Minsk), Victor Melnichuk (Telekom Veszprém HC), Ivan Burzak (ZTR Zaporozhye), Dmitriy Horiha (Pogon Szczecin), Igor Turchenko (Motor-Politehnika-Zab), Taras Minotsky (Motor-Politehnika-Zab), Rudolf Boroday (Donbass)
Left the club: Dmitry Doroschuk (unknown), Mateusz Kus (MKS Kalisz), Vladislav Parovinchak (HC Gomel), Igor Gurin (HC Gomel), Alexey Ganchev (SPR Chrobry Glogow)
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 8
Last 16 (3): 2013/14, 2015/16, 2018/19
Group Phase (4): 2014/15, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20
Ukrainian league: 8 titles (2013-2020)
Ukrainian cup: 6 titles (2013, 2015-2019)