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EHF European League

Petkovic to fulfil ambitions of renewed CSKA

Brian Campion

HC CSKA are making sure their presence in the inaugural EHF European League season doesn't go unnoticed.

A few weeks ago, the Moscow-based team staged a stunning second-half comeback against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in the deciding qualification match to earn their group phase ticket.

And only a few days ago, CSKA brought in Velimir Petkovic as their new head coach. The former Füchse and Göppingen coach brings tons of European experience with him.

  • Petkovic replaced Oleg Kuleshov, the EHF EURO and world champion with Russia in the 1990s, who had led CSKA since 2019
  • the club, previously known as Spartak, was renamed HC CSKA in 2019
  • team captain Pavel Atman playing now for his 10th club
  • Aleksander Dereven suffered a knee injury and will be out for four months

The burning question: Can CSKA shake things up in group C?

A club that was formed in 1973 to much success, disbanded in 2001 and then reestablished only recently. So, it’s a fresh start for this ‘renewed’ club on the European scene and they do not lack confidence.

And CSKA brough in even more refreshment just before heading into the group phase.

Former Füchse and Göppingen head coach Velimir Petkovic was appointed to replace Oleg Kuleshov, who had successfully navigated the team through qualification.

The arrival of Petkovic underlines the club’s ambitions, as the new coach knows how to be successful in Europe, having won the EHF Cup three times in the past decade.

Team captain Pavel Atman is stating that CSKA’s goals are clear and simple: "To win every competition our team is participating in.”

Atman eying up his group as sees “two possible contenders for the title and we will meet them already in the group phase: Montpellier and SC Magdeburg.”

However, the Russian international is tipping someone else for the title: “The main favourite is, in my opinion, another German team – Rhein-Neckar Löwen.”

It’s hard to fully judge the level of this team, they looked convincing in one leg of the qualification and a bit shaky in the next. 

However, their second half performance against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in the decisive leg 2 game of qualification round 2 did show us their upper potential.

Signature players

Swiss army knife: Stanislav Zhukov

The all-around leader of CSKA, Zhukov sits in the centre defence and plays in the left back in attack.

The Ukrainian national team player, who came to CSKA from Motor Zaporozhye in January this year is one of the main options in the offence and is foundation of the defense.

Captain fantastic: Pavel Atman

Captain, leader and playmaker of CSKA and the Russian national team. Came to the club in the middle of last season from HC Vardar 1961.

One of the most experienced players in the club, who has played in top clubs of North Macedonia and Germany; CSKA now being the 10th club in his career.

The wall: Viktor Kireev

No. 1 goalkeeper of CSKA and the Russian national team. Moved back to Russia after four years with Motor Zaporozhye collecting EHF Champions League court time.

Kireev will share the position with Dmitriy Kuznetsov, who was a big help in qualification saving nine shots against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in the decisive game of round 2.

A night to remember...

Before its reestablishment, the club was a very successful entity on the handball scene.

And in the 1987/88 season, the club from the capital of Russia took gold in the European Champions Cup, the forerunner to the EHF Champions League.

In the 28th edition of Europe’s top handball competition, the final was played over two legs, and their opponent was TUSEM Essen of Germany.

In two low-scoring but razor-tight matches (18:15 in Moscow, 21:18 in Essen) the teams were tied 36:36 on aggregate, with the Russian side taking the title because of the away-goal rule.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Dmitriy Kuznetsov (SKIF, Krasnodar), Sergey Nikolaenkov (SKIF, Krasnodar), Aleh Astrashapkin (Csurgoi KK), Valentin Vorobev (SKIF, Krasnodar)

Departures: Vladislav Korshunov (-), Egor Evdokimov (Parnassos), Evgenii Tsakharias (Neva, St.-Petersburg), Nikita Samarskiy (Donskie Kazaki), Igor Radojevic (Dobrogea Sud Constanta), Dmitrii Shelestukov (Dynamo Astrakhan), Oleg Skopintsev (-), Lev Tcelishchev (Dynamo Astrakhan), Inal Aflitulin (Victor)


European Champions Cup:
Winners (1 title): 1987/88
Runners-up (2): 1976/77, 1982/83

Cup Winner's Cup:
Winners (1 title): 1986/87
Runners-up (1): 1984/85

IHF Cup:
Runners-up (1): 1990/1991

Russian league: 4 titles (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001)
Soviet league: 9 titles (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1987)
Soviet cup: 3 titles (1984, 1985, 1986)

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