Motor looking for consistency at top level
The Ukrainian champions were a hard nut to crack last season, showing good morale and fighting hard even against heavyweights. Now HC Motor hope to continue in the same way in their ninth straight EHF Champions League campaign, despite having been drawn into a very competitive group.
- became Ukrainian champions for the ninth consecutive season in 2020/21
- finished group phase in fifth last season before losing to HC Meshkov Brest in the play-offs
- four players joined Motor in the summer, while just as many left the team
- coached by Gintaras Savukinas, who took his position in February 2020
Most important question: Can Motor progress from the competitive group B?
The 2019/20 season had been quite turbulent for the Ukrainian team, who finished bottom of their EHF Champions League group and changed their head coach three times.
However, under the Lithuanian tactician Gintaras Savukynas, who took over in February 2020, Motor have gained consistency and made a visible progress.
Last season, they left a good impression in the continental top flight, finishing fifth in group A with 14 points and fighting hard even against the strongest rivals.
Motor's players were physically well-prepared, disciplined on the court and importantly enough, they gained more self-confidence as the season progressed. However, in the play-offs Zaporozhye came up short against their Eastern European rivals HC Meshkov Brest.
Now Motor have signed some quality players and are looking for another successful season. However, they were drawn into a very strong group in the EHF Champions League – with the likes of Barca, PSG, Kielce, Flensburg and Veszprem - so even reaching the play-offs again will be challenging.
It will be a tough test for the Ukrainian side, who obviously aim to progress from the group – and in an ideal scenario, make a further step forward and reach their maiden quarter-final.
Under the spotlight: Jonas Truchanovicius
The 28-year-old left back has spent five years at Montpellier Handball, helping the French team to win the continental top flight in the 2017/18 season. However, now the 2020 Lithuanian Handballer of the Year decided to make a further step in his career.
At Motor, Truchanovicius, who can play both in attack and defence, hopes to get more playing time than in his previous team. Notably he will join two fellow Lithuanians in Zaporozhye – head coach Gintaras Savukynas and centre back Aidenas Malasinskas, which should help him to settle fast.
How they rate themselves
"Our last season was decent, and now we have to gain a foothold in this position, so that everyone knows where we are. Ups and downs do happen, but consistency at this level will be an important indicator. Looking at our squad, I can say that we have a chance to do at least as well as in the previous campaign," Motor's head coach Gintaras Savukynas told the website handballfast.com.
Did you know?
Since the 2013/14 season, when Motor made their debut in the EHF Champions League, they have not missed a single season in the continental top flight, so now it will be their ninth straight participation at this level.
What the numbers say
Between 2014 and January 2021, Motor won 157 straight matches in the Ukrainian league before splitting points with Donbass last season (29:29). However, that relative setback did not stop the Zaporozhye-based team from winning another domestic title, as they claimed 43 points in 22 games.
Arrivals and departures
Newcomers: Jonas Truchanovicius (Montpellier Handball), Oleksandr Tilte (Chrobry Glogow), Luka Sebetic (Tremblay-en-France Handball), Denis Vasilev (C'Chartres Metropole Handball)
Left the club: Taras Minotskyi (Gripa Azoty Tarnow), Milos Orbovic (HC Kriens-Luzern), Maxim Babichev (retired), Pavlo Gurkovsky (retired)
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2021/22 season): 9
Play-offs (1): 2020/21
Last 16 (3): 2013/14, 2016/17, 2018/19
Group Phase (4): 2014/15, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20
EHF Cup: Group Phase 2012/13
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-finals 2011/12
Ukrainian league: 9 titles (2013-2021)
Ukrainian cup: 7 titles (2013, 2015-2019, 2021)