"A priceless experience"Article
«Go back

VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 14: St. Petersburg HC (RUS)

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Men's News

"A priceless experience"

In their premiere season in the VELUX EHF Champions League they were close to a big surprise, but in the end the players of St. Petersburg HC lacked international experience to reach the Last 16 in 2010/2011.

Lessons learned last season

"We only needed one point in Constanta or Sarajevo, but we missed both oppurtunities. Things like that can happen to a young team. I hope that in our first season on international ground we learned a good lesson," says Dimitri Torgovanov, coach of the Russian runners-up.

Torgovanov took over the team in 2009, led them to two second places in the Russian league, every time losing the finals to their great rivals Chekhovskie Medvedi.

"Maybe next season we will have the chance to beat them," the coach hopes.

Constanta again

This season they will meet the Romanian champions Constanta in the Group Stage again – and Torgovanov expects a close battle for the place behind major favourites HSV Hamburg.

And the coach is looking forward to meet the German champions, as he played for the club for some years after becoming Olymics and World Champion with Russia.

Squad remains almost same

In the current season the face of his squad did not change much: Only Gennadiy Komok (ZTR Zaporozhe) and Nikita Samarskiy (Kaustik Volgograd) arrived.

In their preparation for the new season the team from River Newa faced international top teams like Montpellier, Veszprem or Rhein Neckar Löwen to increase their experience.

Same season goals

The objectives are the same as last season – to reach the Russian league finals and to proceed to the Last 16 in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

"For us it is highly important to compete on international level, as it is really hard to gain experience in the Russian league, even as the level has increased since I arrived here," says Torgovanov, who started his career in St. Petersburg.

At first with basketball, but when their hall was refurbished and there were no training sessions anymore, he switched hall, ball and sport and started playing handball.

Youth player deveopment

This is history, the present also means for Torgovanov to develop young Russian players for the national team. "In Russia the number of young talented and motivated handball players has dropped extremely since the end of the Sovjet Union.

In former times all the boys played handball, nowadays they choose other sports, but no handball."

Implementing a new sport

And as St. Petersburg only was a city of football, hockey and basketball before his arrival, he needed an enormous effort to promote his sport.

"When I arrived only the friends and families of our players were in the arena, now the number of spectators has risen rapidly, thanks to our success," Torgovanov says.

Three questions to coach Dimitri Torgovanov

ehfCl.com: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Dimitri Torgovanov: All opponents in the VELUX EHF Champions League are powerful and European top teams.

Most of them are their countries' champions, and in addition the best teams from Spain and Germany compete. We are awaiting tough matches in our group and looking forward to reach the Last 16.

ehfCl.com: What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Dimitri Torgovanov: It is a priceless experience, that we couldn't get, if we were only playing in the Russian league. It's a great honour for our club and our city.

ehfCl.com: What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Dimitri Torgovanov: As favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 we estimate the German and Spanish teams, but nevertheless all the other clubs have chances for success, too. I highlight THW Kiel, BM Atletico Madrid, HSV Hamburg and FC Barcelona Intersport in a special way.

Club facts - St. Petersburg HC (RUS)

Newcomers: Gennadiy Komok (ZTR Zaporozhe), Nikita Samarskiy (Kaustik Volgograd)

Left the club: Alexandr Semikov

Coach: Head Coach: Dmitriy Torgovanov (since 2009), assistant coach: Konstantin Andreenko (since 2009)

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Russian runners-up

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 2
Group Phase (1): 2010/2011

Russian champion: - (runners-up: 2010, 2011)

Further information

Find more information on HERE.

Join the growing community of handball fans on Facebook!

TEXT: Björn Pazen