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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 24: Handball Club Meshkov Brest are out of Dinamo’s shadows and ready to shine on Europe’s biggest stage once again

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News

Brest delighted to be back among the best

Six years Meshkov Brest were left in Dinamo Minsk’s shadows, six years missing out on the Belarusian league title, six years absent from the Europe’s elite club competition.

However, all that has changed after Dinamo’s demise and Brest gladly striking back to take the title again in 2014.

Some Dinamo players such as Dziannias Rutenka (brother of Siarhei) and Maxim Babichev joined Meshkov – and after a long absence they are now in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase, where they had been constant participant from 2004 until 2008.

In recent times, Brest were unlucky in the EHF Cup, twice coming up against eventual semi-finalists in the final qualification round in 2012 and 2013 and twice failing to beat German sides Frisch Auf Göppingen and Füchse Berlin.

Brest have also been competing in the regional SEHA Liga and even made it to the final tournament in April 2014 in Novi Sad.

For the new season, Meshkov signed experienced players Nikola Manojlovic from Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Austrian international Janko Bozovic. And hosting the qualification tournament for the group phase, those newcomers (and stars like Serbian line player Rastko Stojkovic and Slovenian playmaker David Spiler) helped the side through in the final against Slovak champions Tatran Presov.

In the next stage the powerhouses of THW Kiel, Paris Saint-Germain and Metalurg Skopje will be visiting Brest, but despite those big names the hopes are high at the Belarusian champions to make it to the Last 16, as well as defend their domestic title and again reach the SEHA final event.

Sports director Pavel Bashkin is confident: “Our goal is to enter the knock-out stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League. The participants of our group are very strong. They constantly participate in this competition, but the famous names of our opponents are also a guarantee that the hall will be full at our home matches.”

After the long absence, team captain Ljubo Vukic says he is “very glad to play in the strongest league in Europe. Of course, our group is difficult, but we will fight to be among the top four teams in the end, which would grant us a ticket to the Last 16.”

Three questions to coach Zeljko Babic:

What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - regarding your objectives and group opponents?

Zeljko Babic: I am very glad that the team reached the group phase of the Champions League. Now we will fight to go on to the Last 16.

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

Zeljko Babic: For me and my team it is rising to a new level.

Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and to win the title this season – and why?

Zeljko Babic: My personal favourites are Barcelona, Kiel, Veszprem and PSG. I think the winner of the Champions League will be Barcelona or Veszprem.

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)

Qualification for the 2014/2015 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Belarusian champions, winner of qualification tournament 1

Newcomers: Janko Bozovic (Emsdetten), Nikola Manojlovic (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Simon Razgor (Maribor Branik)

Left the club: Alexey Ushal (Kronon), Alexey Haisa (Kronon), Denis Volyntsev (Gomel), Milan Dzukic (Borac Banja Luka), Robert Markotic (Aix-En Provence), David Milicevic (Samberiju), Jury Tatarin (Sungul), Nerius Ataevas (destination unknown).

Coach: Zeljko Babic (since 2013)

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2014/2015 season): 6
Group Matches (4): 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08
Qualification (1): 2008/09

Other EC records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Quarter-finalist: 2011/12

Belarusian champions: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014
Belarusian cup: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor