Mironovich eager to add another trophy to SKA collectionArticle
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The coach, who is at the helm of the traditional team from Minsk for thirty years, will lead his team in the second leg of the Challenge Cup Final
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Mironovich eager to add another trophy to SKA collection

SKA Minsk have a great chance to win the sixth European trophy in their history. After beating Handball Esch (31:26) in the first leg of the Challenge Cup final in Luxembourg, the Belarusian team are the strong favourites before the return leg, which will take place on Saturday in Minsk.

The army team from Belarus have won five European competitions so far: the European Champions Cup (1987, 1989, 1990) and the Cup Winner’s Cup (1983, 1988). All these results were achieved under the lead of the head coach Spartak Mironovich. At almost 75, he is still in the same position and is eager to add another title to his collection. Before the upcoming game in Belarus, Mironovich talks to eurohandball.com.

eurohandball.com: What are your expectations from the game?

Spartak Mironovich: The final consists of two matches. I think it is clear for everyone. We already have a small tradition: our team looks better in away games than at home. The semifinal against Runar was a good example. In Norway, we played more relaxed, while in Belarus our game was nervous and not very attractive. So we are a bit worried before the second leg. But of course we would like to win another European trophy after almost 25 years. Belarusian clubs rarely play in the finals of international competitions. So there is some anxiety.

eurohandball.com: What is your opinion about the opponent?

Spartak Mironovich: Handball Esch are the champions of Luxembourg, and their level is quite good. They have some members of Luxembourg national team which was a hard nut to crack for Belarus. Besides, they have a few import players. So, we are looking forward to a tight battle.

eurohandball.com: Do you plan to change anything in your game compared to the first leg?

Spartak Mironovich: In Luxembourg, we lacked power and endurance a little bit. Several players looked exhausted as they had taken part in an intense training camp with the national team. Hopefully, this time our team will look more fresh. Besides, now we know our opponent better. And we are working on some small details that we need to improve. Yes, we have beaten Esch in Luxembourg, but still we made some mistakes. Now it is time to play better.

eurohandball.com: SKA Minsk won all five previous European titles in the 80s. Can you compare your feelings before the final games then and now?

Spartak Mironovich: At that time, I was almost two times younger. And everything was for the first time. The team was more skilled, and we attracted really lots of attention. But hopefully now we will also see many spectators at Minsk-Arena. Of course, today we have more experience than 30 years ago — at least I have. SKA have won many trophies in the past, and now we know that we are close to another title. But my experience also tells me that we should not celebrate in advance. In handball, anything can happen, and there are lots of different examples. We achieved a good result in Luxembourg, but we need to stay fully focused. Otherwise we can be punished.

eurohandball.com: Challenge Cup is not the most prestigious European competition compared to the ones that you won previously. Does it really mean so much for you?

Spartak Mironovich: It is hard to measure the value of our previous and present victories. We should look to the future and not to the past. Of course we remember our triumphs in the 80s and want to repeat them. Maybe now I am even more anxious than 25-30 years ago. Very few Belarusian clubs have ever won European trophies…

eurohandball.com: Which game is more important for SKA — Challenge Cup final or the decisive match of the Belarusian league against the VELUX EHF Champions League participant Dinamo Minsk on 29 May? In fact, you also have a chance to become a national champion after a long break.

Spartak Mironovich: The next match is always the most important. We will start thinking about Dinamo only after we play against Esch. After the final, it will be hard to beat Dinamo, but we will not relax anyway.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / br