Atman aiming higher with MetalurgArticle
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INTERVIEW: Sunday's Match of the Week will have added importance for Metalurg's Russian centre back, who returns to former club Minsk for the first time since his departure last summer

Atman aiming higher with Metalurg

After three seasons at Dinamo Minsk, Russian centre back Pavel Atman returns to the Belarusian capital for the first time in the colours of HC Metalurg in their VELUX EHF Champions League clash in the Match of the Week on Sunday 16 February at 14:00 hrs. CET

Shortly before departing for Minsk, Pavel shared his thoughts about his time at his former club, life in Skopje and expectations in Europe’s elite competition with current club Metalurg. What kind of feelings do you have before your trip to Minsk and ahead of facing a club you played for over the last few seasons?

Paval Atman: Before departing to Minsk I only have positive feelings for the club in which I played the last three years. I must mention that the time I spent at this club helped me a lot in my development as a player. Which moments were most memorable in Minsk? How do you look back on your time with Dinamo?

Paval Atman: My most memorable moments come from playing in the Champions League for the first time for both the club and me, and I must say that we were quite successful considering it was our first appearance. Your former club has changed drastically over the summer. Are you surprised they are out of the race for the Last 16?

Paval Atman: This season Dinamo has a completely new team and a new coach. When it comes to such big changes it takes time for all pieces to come in their place and to form a team. That is why it is not surprising that with this group of players they are not among the best 16 teams. What is the biggest difference between life in Minsk and in Skopje? How hard was it for you to get used to the environment in Skopje?

Paval Atman: There is a huge difference between these two cities. In Skopje people live a calmer and more balanced life, while in Minsk everything is connected with hustle and bustle, which makes sense as Minsk is a big city with a large population. Handball is sport number one for Macedonians. How much you do like the attitude of the nation toward this sport?

Paval Atman: I really like the fact that handball is such a popular sport here. I have never seen such support in other countries and this is great as it gives us special incentive in the game. Fans are the eight player on the court. How satisfied with your team’s shape after the break in the VELUX EHF Champions League? How hard was for your team to replace Naumche Mojsovski?

Paval Atman: I'm satisfied with our shape after the break in the VELUX EHF Champions League, as all the players who played at the EURO in Denmark are in good shape.

There are some injuries, but it is a sport. It is very hard to play without Naumche psychologically, and we miss him on the court. He is the captain and team leader, and everyone is waiting for his speedy return, he is the heart of the team. You still have a chance to overtake PSG and qualify for the Last 16 in second position, which will mean avoiding the biggest names in the Last 16. What will be important to achieve this?

Paval Atman: It will be very difficult to overtake PSG, but we will give our best in order to achieve this. That is why it is important to win in the next two matches, and of course wait for the result of PSG’s matches. The Last 16 is the furthest you’ve reached in the competition so far. How far do you think you can go with Metalurg?

Paval Atman: With Metalurg I would obviously like to go further, as far as possible. This is the goal of the team and I think we can progress past the Last 16.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor