"Hello, Group Stage!"Article
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VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League countdown, part 24: Dinamo Minsk (BLR)

»EHF CL Channel »2010-11 Men's News

"Hello, Group Stage!"

Could it be an advantage to know the strongest opponent very well? In the case of Dinamo Minsk it for sure was.

Some weeks before the VELUX EHF Champions League qualification tournament in Porto the Belarusian champions met the Ukrainian club ZTR Zaporozhe in the first tournament of the newly built "Inter-Regional League" with different teams from former Soviet Union.

With the knowledge they had about their opponent, Dinamo managed to beat their neighbours in Porto with a one goal difference. A draw against the host and a victory over hosts Skopje secured their first ever qualification to the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase in the club’s history.

The man behind this success is an Olympic champion: Coach Sergei Bebeshko won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona with team CIS. Afterwards he remained in Spain as a player and coach.

Now the Ukrainian-born Bebeshko returned to Belarus after 18 years in December 2009 as new coach. He won the first double in the club history, and is still unbeaten in official matches of the Belarusian league and the cup.

"My phone rang – and I was totally surprised as Dinamo offered me to become their coach. But after I found out that the club is led extremely professional, I of course took this great opportunity to work with a team not only playing for all domestic titles but also competing in a major European competition," Bebeshko said. "And after all the success, I’m really feeling lucky!"

Maybe knowing in what city famous for its handball club Bebeshko lived in before is a good omen: He was a citizen of Ciudad Real…

Earlier on SKA Minsk and Brest had been the flagships of Belarusian club handball. Nowadays Dinamo has taken over that role, which gathers a huge number of spectators at their games.

Last season’s key player was Ukrainian Sergei Onufrienko who has EHF Champions League experience from playing for Zaporozhe some years ago. He was the top star of the Belarusian league and the second best scorer behind Victor Nedolivko.

And line player Nedolivko (24 years old, 195 league goals) has now been signed by Dinamo to improve the team not only for the international stage.

Beside him Dinamo signed some other players from Belarus and neighbouring countries like the Lithuanians Egidius Petkaevicius and Remigijus Chepulis, who have been playing in Spain before.

Another well-known new name is Russian Paul Atman from Volgograd, who despite an injury could already show his important influence on the court in the Qualification Tournament.

But for coach Bebeshko, names of players take a lower role in the system: "It’s better when all players are equal and their contribution is similar, than having one big star in the team. Handball is a team sport and for me the team is much more important than the individual."

In order to prove how important training sessions are, Bebeshko did not allow his players to go on holiday right after winning the Belarusian championship, but instead doubled the number of training sessions in the upcoming week.

For the club it is very important to develop in international surroundings, as club manager Mikhail Majewski underlines: "In Belarus we only have eight teams in the league, and only three of which are fighting for the title. So we need more matches against strong opponents in the Inter-Regional League in order to get in shape for the VELUX EHF Champions League."

After reaching the European elite tournament, their international objective, the club website didn’t only welcome the users with the motto "Hello, Group Stage!" but fans and media gave their heroes a very warm welcome when the plane from Portugal landed at Minsk airport. The club is ready for the challenge.

Key facts

Newcomers: Paul Atman (from Kaustik Volgograd), Victor Kovalenko (from Buducnost Podgorica), Egidius Petkaevicius (from Lithuania), Remigijus Chepulis (from Toledo), Victor Nedolivko (from Victoria Regia)

Left the club: Igor Rapovets (end of career), Andrej Shipenko, Nick Yakimovich, Nelson, Espino, Maria Maretich

Coach: Sergei Bebeshko (UKR, since December 2009, successor of Yury Karpuk, new Belarusian youth national coach)

Club records

Belarusian Champion 2009, 2010
Belarusian Cup winner 2010
Belarusian Cup finalist 2009
Winner Baltic League 2009
First appearance in VELUX EHF Champions League

Find more information here.

TEXT: Björn Pazen