Rejuvenated Ukraine seek success with new coach
This is the seventh article in a series of 24, presenting all participants at the Men's EHF EURO 2022 in Hungary and Slovakia.
In 2020, Ukraine returned to the Men’s EHF EURO for the first time in 10 years, but they lost all three matches in the preliminary round.
Back in 2022 for their seventh participation and now led by German coach Michael Biegler, Ukraine finally want to get past the preliminary round again.
- reached the final tournament as one of the best third-ranked teams in the EHF EURO Qualifiers
- finished 19th two years ago; their best result is 11th from the 2002 tournament
- have won just three of their 28 matches at EHF EURO events, and none in their last two appearances in 2020 and 2010
- German coach Michael Biegler, appointed in September, has decided to rely less heavily on players from HC Motor and bring in more young talents
- will meet Serbia, France and Croatia in group C in Szeged
Main question: Can Michael Biegler open a new era for Ukraine?
The 60-year-old Michael Biegler has had numerous stops in his illustrious coaching career, which started in 1985. However, Ukraine is only his second assignment out of his native Germany, after leading Poland in the three-year build-up to and during their home EHF EURO in 2016.
Biegler’s appointment marks the start of a new era for the Ukrainian federation. The coach has been asked to analyse the current structures within the federation, not just concerning the men’s national team but also the junior ranks, and propose improvements.
A result of Biegler’s vision is that Ukraine will arrive in Hungary with fewer players from EHF Champions League contenders HC Motor. With a younger, hungry team Biegler will try to surprise Ukraine’s tough opponents in Szeged.
Under the spotlight: Gennadiy Komok
The 34-year-old goalkeeper might be a late bloomer, he could become a key factor in Ukraine’s bid to make it to the next round. Komok has impressed over the last two seasons between the posts of HC Motor, saving the club on numerous occasions for a defeat in the EHF Champions League.
Komok’s class and experience will be important factors for Ukraine.
Did you know?
Only two players in the rejuvenated squad of Ukraine have played more than 50 games for the national team: Captain Oleksandr Tilte and left-wing Ievgen Zhuk.
What the numbers say
Seven of the 17 players that represented Ukraine at the EHF EURO 2020 were missing from the 35-player preliminary squad for 2022. The most notable absentees are wing players from HC Motor: Zakhar Denysov (31 years old) and Artem Kozakevych (29). Also, prolific scorer Vladyslav Ostroushko (35) will be absent in Hungary following Ukraine’s choice for a younger roster.
EHF EURO participations (including 2022): 7
Best result: 11th (2002), 12th (2000, 2006)
Photo © Uros Hocevar / kolektiff