Five EHF EURO debutants to watch

FEATURE: Several players at the EHF EURO 2020 will enjoy their debut at a major tournament - and some of them might get a fair share of the limelight as well

Sweden's Valter Chrintz has showed his outstanding qualities for IFK Kristianstad in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

The Men’s EHF EURO 2020 will see a number of debutants in the competition aiming to help their national teams at the first edition of the expanded event. With 24 teams set to contest the title, the pool of fresh talent is deeper than ever before.

Here we have gathered five players ready for their first EHF EURO – but nevertheless, likely to have some impact for their sides.

Dainis Kristopans, Latvia

It is hard to believe the 2020 event will be Dainis Kristopans’ first EHF EURO. The right back has made a big name for himself in the VELUX EHF Champions League, playing an important role in HC Vardar’s 2018/19 season, which ended with them raising the trophy in Cologne.

Kristopans was deservedly named the All-star Team right back of the Champions League 2018/19 season, and is particularly well known for his height – at 215 cm, he is the tallest player in the top-flight competition.

After helping his national team qualify for their first EHF EURO, Kristopans will now play his maiden major international championship in the Latvia jersey.

Melvyn Richardson, France

Another young player who already counts a Champions League title to his name, France centre back Melvyn Richardson is set for his maiden EHF EURO voyage in January.

The now 22-year-old took the Champions League title with Montpellier in 2017/18, not only holding his own against players with far greater experience, but having genuine impact.

Richardson has already won his first medal with the senior France team, taking bronze at the 2019 Men’s World Championship in Germany and Denmark – adding to his collection from Young Age Category events and individual titles including MVP of the 2015 Youth World Championship.

Valter Chrintz, Sweden

Just over a year ago, he was terrorising opposition defences at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO, leading Sweden to gold, now Valter Chrintz is on the verge of playing his first major senior tournament.

With Mattias Zachrisson out injured, Chrintz should see his fair share of court time at this home EHF EURO.

The skilful right wing has a bag of tricks and the confidence to unleash them at any time. At the age of 19, he has already had his second campaign in the VELUX EHF Champions League, this season scoring 36 goals for IFK Kristianstad.

Mikita Vailupau, Belarus

Belarus are a team full of exciting young prospects, and this time around, one of the newcomers to watch will be right wing Mikita Vailupau.

24-year-old Vailupau has been impressing in the VELUX EHF Champions League in what is his first season with Meshkov Brest, netting 38 goals – including 12 [CG1] scored in one outing versus HC Vardar. He has also received Player of the Match accolades in the SEHA League.

Alexander Blonz, Norway

19-year-old left wing Alexander Blonz made his World Championship debut in January 2019, helping Norway on their journey to their second consecutive silver medal in the event.

Although he is the second option behind Magnus Jondal, he has his time on court and at the World Championship received a Player of the Match award after scoring eight goals against Chile.

Blonz joined Champions League side Elverum Handball ahead of the 2019/20 season, and has scored 39 goals for the Norwegian side.

written by Courtney Gahan / cor, ew