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03.09.2016, 16:10◄ last page     

VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 18 days to go - HC Meshkov Brest (BLR). Less coming and going this season for the Belarusian champions as Bebeshko & Co. aim to progress from Group B

Aiming at Last 16 for their big anniversary

Meshkov Brest again took the double in Belarus by becoming league champions and cup winners last season. In 2001, they named the club after famous Belarusian handball coach Anatoly Meshkov, who died in 1994. The whole club in Brest will celebrate its 80th anniversary in February 2017.

When the time rolls around, everybody at Meshkov hopes to still be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League. In the 2015/16 season, Brest made it through to the Group C+D playoffs, but were eliminated by eventual Champions League winners Vive Tauron Kielce in the Last 16.

Proceeding to the knockout stage is again one major goal of Brest, besides taking all domestic titles and qualifying for the final tournament of the SEHA Liga.

The squad of coach Sergej Bebeshko did not change that much, compared to the previous season. The biggest names among the new arrivals are Rajko Prodanovic (MOL-Pick Szeged), Vladislav Ostroushko (HCM Baia Mare) and Iman Jamali (IFK Kristianstad). Besides those newcomers, Dzianis Rutenka is back after injury.

Maksim Baranau is the only key player who left. In addition, Dzmitry Kamyshyk will miss the whole 2016/17 season after a serious injury during pre-season.

This year, Meshkov had been seeded among the 16 top teams in Group B. Thus, manager Pavel Bashkin expects great matches for his side: “The strongest teams in our group are Kielce and Rhein-Neckar Löwen. All other teams are almost equal. So it is our main goal is to finish this stage among the first six teams, preferably to be in top four of the group.”

For Bashkin “it is a prestigious thing to play in the elite group. The team will only develop and progress by playing against the strongest teams.”

Team captain Dzmitry Nikulenkau is looking forward to this development: “We would like to take the next step and qualify for the quarter-finals. But first of all, we need to be among first six teams of the group. The majority of the teams are more or less equal. Certainly, Kielce and Rhein-Neckar Löwen are stronger, but I’m sure they will also lose some points.”

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)

Qualification for the 2016/17 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Belorussian champions

Newcomers: Andrei Yashchanka (HC Gomel), Andrei Yurynok (SKA Minsk), Rajko Prodanovic (MOL-Pick Szeged), Rade Mijatovic (Grundfos Tatabanya KC), Vladislav Ostroushko (HCM Baia Mare), Iman Jamali (IFK Kristianstad)

Left the club: Maksim Baranau (Odorhei), Artsiom Selvasiuk (Mezökövesdi KC)

Coach: Sergej Bebeshko (since 2015)
Team captain: Dzmitry Nikulenkau

Opponents in the group phase: Löwen, Kielce, Vardar, Zagreb, Szeged, Celje, Kristianstad in Group B

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2016/17 season): 8
Last 16 (1): 2015/16
Group Phase (5): 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2014/2015
Qualification (1): 2008/09

Other EC records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Quarter-final 2011/12

Belarusian champions: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2016
Belarusian cup: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016
SEHA Liga: Finalist (2015)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc

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