Minsk back with an international flairArticle
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COUNTDOWN: VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 22: Dinamo Minsk (BLR)

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Minsk back with an international flair

Belarusian champions Dinamo Minsk underwent a serious player overhaul during the summer.

Nine players and coach Sergiy Bebeshko left the club and in their place came eight new players and coach Boris Denic. Denic, who remains in his position as Slovenian national team coach alongside his club duties, brought a huge variety of nations to Minsk – Slovenians, Russians, Croats, Spaniards and Bosnians.

The newly built team completed their first task of the season, to proceed from VELUX EHF Champions League Qualification to the Group Phase.

Boris Denic led his team to victories over AEK Athens in the semi-final and then left hosts Tatran Presov behind in the final to reach the group phase for the third time.

Last season the Belarusians, now without the big names of last season like Pavel Atman and Vasko Sevaljevic, made it to the last 16 after showing some brilliant performances in the Group Phase.

This season they face Barcelona, Paris, Thun and the two Skopje rivals Metalurg and Vardar in the next stage of the competition – where they want to prove that their newly created logo has also an international significance.

After becoming Belarusian champions for the fifth straight time at their fifth club anniversary Dinamo added five stars to their club logo. There are a number of stars among the newcomers, such as former Füchse winger Ivan Nincevic, former EHF Champions League winner Mikel Aguirrezabalaga, Russian international Sergej Shelmenko and Slovenian international Dean Bombac.

With these new faces on board, the goals are set high - winning all domestic titles and getting among the best 16 teams in Europe once again.

Sport director Andrei Parashchenko hopes for an equal group – with two exceptions:

“Barcelona and Paris are the clear favourites – and in my opinion they are clearly set for the Last 16. The fight for two more spots will be a close one between equal clubs Metalurg, Vardar, Thun and Minsk.

We know Metalurg very well from our previous season’s Last 16 matches and our former player Pavel Atman joined the club,” says Parashchenko.

Team captain Dzmitry Nikulenkau hopes that history will repeat itself and a good run in the competition will be possible.

“Last season Dinamo appeared in the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the first time and now we would like to emulate this achievement.

“Barcelona and Paris are the outstanding contenders in our group, besides them we will have to fight with two strong Macedonian clubs,” concludes the centre back, who scored 46 goals last season.

HC Dinamo Minsk (BLR)

Qualification for the 2013/2014 VELUX EHF Champions League season: winner of qualification tournament 2, Belarusian Champion

Coach: Boris Denic (since 2013, predecessor: Sergei Bebeshko)

Newcomers: Ivan Nincevic (Fuchse Berlin), Uros Bundalo (RK Cimos Koper), Mikel Aguirrezabalaga (FC Barcelona), Eldar Nasyrov (St.Petersburg HC), Damir Doborac (RK Gradacac), Sergei Shelmenko (Chekhovskie Medvedi), David Miklavcic (Gorenje Velenje), Dean Bombac (RK Cimos Koper)

Left the club: Rade Mijatovic, Oleg Skopintsev (HC Motor Zaporozhye), Andrei Khapal (HC Viktoria Regia Minsk), Ratko Nikolic, Olexandr Shevelev (HC Motor Zaporozhye), Vladislav Ostroushko (HC Motor Zaporozhye), Sergiy Onufriyenko (HC Motor Zaporozhye), Vasko Sevaljevic (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf), Pavel Atman (HC Metalurg)

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2013/2014 season): 5
Last 16 (1): 2012/2013
Group Phase (1): 2010/2011
Qualification (2): 2009/2010, 2011/2012

Other EC records:
Quarter-finalist 2011/12

Belarusian Champion: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Belarusian Cup winner: 2010, 2013
Baltic League Champion: 2009

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor