Lazarov brothers battle at the top of Group BArticle
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FACE TO FACE: The most famous family name in Macedonian handball is represented on both sides of the court when HC Vardar take on FC Barcelona Lassa

Lazarov brothers battle at the top of Group B

Brothers appearing in the VELUX EHF Champions League are becoming a very common feature. Toft Hansen, Aguinagalde, Marguc and Karabatic are some of the family names with a strong presence on the court.

However, there is a special situation at the top of Group B as FC Barcelona Lassa with Daniel Dushebajev and Kiril Lazarov against HC Vardar’s Alex Dushebajev and Filip Lazarov in a duel between two sets of brothers.

The story Lazarov boys started in Sveti Nikole, a small town in central-eastern FYR Macedonia. As children of a professional handball player, the brothers showed special interest for sports which was noticed by their father, who helped them make the first steps in handball.

Everything started in the small Macedonian club Ovce Pole and developed in different directions. After playing for several Macedonian clubs, Kiril Lazarov started a international career which started in Zagreb and would bring him a number of achievements and placed him among the best handball players in the world.

“What is really important for a handball player is to have a right coach who will guide you in the right direction. Perhaps in this way I can say that I had more luck to have the right coaches and play in the right clubs and this helped me to reach the current position,” says Kiril

While the elder brother took this step, Filip played only one season abroad, a move to Budapest in 2006/07. The adventure for Filip ended quickly and he returned in Macedonia where he continued his career in Metalurg, Pelister and Vardar.

“My brother insisted on my transfer in Hungary. I had a contract with Veszprem but I played on loan in two Hungarian teams. He helped me a lot with everything, but at the end of the season he decided to sign Zagreb and I had a great offer from Metalurg and that is why I came back home.”

Teammates and contenders

When it comes to the national team, the brothers played together at several big competitions and were part of the nation’s historical fifth place finish at EHF EURO 2012. The experience from playing together in the national team means a lot to them and Filip recognises his brother’s role in the country biggest achievements:

“What Kiril has done for the national team is more than the hundreds of goals that he has scored. He believed in us and we believed in our captain who led our country at all big competitions”

The national team matches always have a special meaning for the right back Kiril.

“When it comes to the matches in the national team you play for all the people in the country and in this case you don't have one brother but you have 15 brothers. The feeling is special when you represent the country so it not always about the quality but patriotism also plays a crucial role.”

When asked for an opinion on his brother, FC Barcelona Lassa player says: “The difference between us is in the physical proportions and talent. I think that when it comes to both things, Filip is better than me.”

“I also think that our characters are different too because I usually strive to achieve what I have planned and I also believe that we create our own destiny. If things are not developing as planed we can do something in order to change this and we are different when it comes to these situations.”

Aware of the fact that his brother is known as a “goal machine” and is recognised as one of the best players in the world, Filip says:

“I believe it is enough to mention that Kiril is one of the best scorers of all time and holds records in all competitions. His achievements are massive and hard to emulate”

Clash of the titans

The ehfTV commentator and blogger, Tom O’Brannigain came out with an interesting photo on Twitter ahead of the sides’ first clash. The sum of Lazarov brothers’ shirts, 77 and 23, adds up to 100 and prompted numerous positive reactions among the handball community.

“I think it was a pure coincidence but I liked this photo because it was a really fun and interesting picture to see,” admits Filip.

In the match itself, Wael Jallouz inspired the Catalans to a one-goal victory to overtake Vardar at the top of Group B.

“In the first game we had chances to win the two points in Barcelona but we failed. The home team was motivated and they showed their power and preponderance to us, but they also saw that we are a hard and quality contender,” stated Filip

“I notice that Vardar are growing every year and their sponsors invest a lot and this is good for Macedonian handball. At the moment they have a quality team which is similar to ours with good players in all positions and I'm sure that good results will follow from this team. I also believe that both teams are among the best six in the world,” says Kiril

The Jane Sandaski arena will host the eight round of the VELUX EHF Champions League match in which again Barcelona and Vardar which will fight for the first position in the Group.

The all-time record scorer of the World Championships and EHF EURO, Kiril did not show his full potential in the first clash, but it is expected that the “goal machine” will shine bright in Sunday.

“We are still in the group phase and every point is important to us. Our goal is to end in first position and we are on track to achieving this. We know that at home Vardar are very tough opponent and we will have a hard task to win the points in Skopje,” says Kiril.

“I expect an even better match in Jane Sandanski and I think that both teams will show their best. I can’t expect anything but a tight match until the end. The big advantage for us is our home court and I hope we will use this advantage and win.

“Everyone knows that our goal is the FINAL4 and we will fight hard to achieve this,” concludes Filip.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor