Soroka enjoys his new life in ZaporozhyeArticle
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FEATURE: The Russian left wing Igor Soroka, who has recently moved from Permskie medvedi to HC Motor Zaporozhye, makes impressive first steps in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Soroka enjoys his new life in Zaporozhye

HC Motor Zaporozhye lost the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 at home against Hungary's MVM Veszprém (24:29). Yet, the Ukrainian champion fought hard at their home court in Brovary and after the first half the teams were level at 12:12.

Motor's best scorer in that match was the Russian Igor Soroka with seven goals. His performance was especially amazing as the 24-year-old left wing only played his third match in Europe's top flight competition.

The first two were the recent Group C+D play-off games against Naturhouse La Rioja. In Spain, the debutant did not score, but at home he improved and found the net three times.

In the two exciting games, the Ukrainian side were stronger and proceeded to the Last 16 where they faced Veszprém.

"We knew that it would be a very tough game for us. Veszprém are one of the best teams in Europe. We prepared ourselves for the game very thoroughly. In the first half, we managed to play well. But in the second half, we made too many mistakes in defense, and could not catch up with our opponents," Soroka told

Russian "bird"

Soroka is a recent addition to Zaporozhye's squad. The winger moved from Permskie medvedi just this February. In his new team, he joined his fellow countrymen Gleb Kalarash and Sergiy Shelmenko. To be more precise, the latter is a born Ukrainian, but changed his handball nationality and plays for the Russian national team.

"I like everything here. I was embraced well at the club, they gave me a lot of care and attention, which is very pleasant," says Soroka.

And he goes on: "It is important for me that there is no language barrier, even though everything is new for me: the country, the league, the team and the people. It is also warmer in the Ukraine than in Perm, which I enjoy. Every handball player has the goal to play in the Champions League, and now I have reached it."

Soroka, whose last name is translated from Russian as "magpie", grew up in Cherkessk, in the South of Russia. When he was young, his first coach was his father Yuri.

"Thanks to handball, a lot of things in my life have changed. It is a very interesting and fast game and when you play it for many years, it becomes an integral part of your life," says the left wing.

In his homeland, Soroka played for Dinamo-Viktor Stavropol, RGUFK-Chekhovskie medvedi and since 2013, for Permskie medvedi. Last year, he was elected the best left wing of the Russian league and helped Medvedi to finish second, which was the best result in the club's history.

New experience

Initially, his transfer from Perm to Zaporozhye was supposed to take place at the end of this season, but Permskie medvedi recently faced some financial troubles, which prompted them to let Soroka go in winter already.

At his new club, the Russian is considered a player for the future. He faces competition with two other left wings, Levgen Zhuk and Zakhar Denisov. Judging by the first impressions, it looks like Soroka has every chance to establish himself as a first-choice player.

This year, he has gained some international experience not only in the VELUX EHF Champions League but also at the EHF EURO 2016, which was actually his first major international competition with the Russian team so far.

Being the second-choice left wing behind the renowned Timur Dibirov, Soroka still had his time on court and scored nine goals in six games.

After the home defeat against Veszprém, Motor do not have the best chances to progress to the next round. Yet, Soroka refuses to sound too pessimistic. "No one in our team is giving up. In Hungary, we will fight hard and try to make up for the home loss. I wish us good luck," he concludes.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / es