07/12/2019

Ukraine determined for remarkable comeback

MEN’S EHF EURO 2020 COUNTDOWN #23: Ukraine. After a decade away from the spotlight, the Eastern European team are hoping for an impressive performance

Ukraine are returning to the EHF EURO after a 10-year absence.

After finishing 16th at the EHF EURO 2010, Ukraine have not featured in any major competitions for 10 years. But with Sergey Bebeshko at the helm, the team enjoyed a successful qualification campaign for the EHF EURO 2020, and are now hoping for a successful final tournament.

Three questions before the Men’s EHF EURO 2020:

- How will Sergey Bebeshko prepare the team for his debut EHF EURO?

As a player, Sergey Bebeshko won the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games with the Unified Team from the CIS. As a coach, he has enjoyed some success in the VELUX EHF Champions League with Dinamo Minsk, HC Motor Zaporozhye and HC Meshkov Brest. However, EHF EURO 2020 will be a new experience for Bebeshko, as it is his debut major tournament at the Ukrainian helm, so the coach needs to make a careful and thorough preparation.

- How will Ukraine’s goalkeepers perform?

Genadiy Komok from HC Motor Zaporozhye is Ukraine’s first-choice goalkeeper, and he has proved his high quality many times. However, Anton Terekhov (also from Motor) and Anton Dereviankin (from ZTR Zaporozhye) have far less international experience, so if Komor is sidelined for any reason or just needs to rest, the team may face a problem with goalkeepers.

- Will Sergiy Onufrienko be fit enough to help the team?

The 34-year-old right back from France’s Chartres MHB 28 is one of the most experienced players in the Ukrainian squad. However, he has been suffering from health problems throughout 2019, and following a groin surgery in mid-November it is not clear whether he will recover for the EHF EURO 2020.

“The doctor said that I have a chance, but it’s too early to say now. I’ll be happy to join the team if I feel that I can help, even if I can hardly play — maybe 10-15 minutes in a game. Probably it will be decided in late December,” Onufrienko said.

Under the spotlight: Stanislav Zhukov

Normally a left back at his club HC Motor Zaporozhye, the 27-year-old is often used as a playmaker in the Ukrainian national team. In the summer of 2019, the versatile player returned to his home country from Germany, where he had played for Gummersbach for two seasons. The experience in the Bundesliga has helped Zhukov to become a more mature and complete player, and his qualities make him an important player in the national team.

Self-esteem

“We must and will fight for a main round spot. We are seen as outsiders, but I disagree with that. We have a chance, and we are determined to show a good handball. We don’t consider ourselves outsiders,” the experienced left back Vladislav Ostroushko said.

Fun fact

Several players who took part in the EHF EURO 2010 are still in the team – in particular Sergiy Onufrienko, Genadiy Komok, Vladislav Ostroushko and Dmytro Doroshchuk.

What the numbers say

Between 2000 and 2010, Ukraine took part in five EHF EURO final tournaments – but after 2010, they had to wait for 10 years to reach the final stage again.

written by Sergey Nikolaev / jh