Chupryna’s unorthodox style is key to Presov’s successArticle
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FEATURE: With three matches still to go, Tatran Presov have already gathered more points in the group phase than ever before, and their Ukrainian goalkeeper Igor Chupryna has contributed a lot to that achievement
»2018-19 Men's News

Chupryna’s unorthodox style is key to Presov’s success

Their eighth season in the VELUX EHF Champions League has become a historic one for Tatran Presov. After seven rounds, the team from coach Slavko Goluza is on 10 points - a record in the history of the Slovakian club.

Presov have racked up five wins and were defeated twice in Group C, leaving them as one of the three candidates for a play-off spot, alongside leaders Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (12 points) and Sporting CP (10).

“We have lost two homes games, against Medvedi and Sporting. We should have won both times, but made too many mistakes in the second half,” said Presov goalkeeper Igor Chupryna.

“We have already claimed a record number of points in a Champions League season, so it’s already a success for the club and players,” he added. “In short, everything goes according to plan. Our goal is to progress to the next round.”

Chupryna has become one of the key factors to Presov’s successful season. The Slovakian side has the best defence of all 28 teams in the group phase, with just 177 goals conceded after seven matches.

Every quality defence needs a reliable goalkeeper, and Presov certainly have one in Chupryna. With 55 saves in seven games, the 28-year-old Ukrainian is among the most consistent goalkeepers of the season. His saves helped Presov to crucial wins against Besiktas, Metalurg and Sporting.

Still, his style is often described as “unorthodox,” but Chupryna admitted he is “aware that my goalkeeping style is quite unique.”

“Maybe it’s because I lacked proper schooling as a kid. I grew up in a small town close to Odessa, at the seaside, and often played handball on the beach,” said Chupryna, who is nicknamed ‘Cupa’ in Presov. “Later, I played for the Ukrainian national beach handball team. And when I was at Portovik, we also used to train on sand during pre-season. So probably that’s the origin of my style.”

Chupryna’s moves and dives might remind of a fish in the pond. And once he gets into the game with a few saves, he is capable of stopping virtually each shot fired in his direction.

“Compared to other goalkeepers, I feel I’m more explosive. I just can’t stand still, I move a lot,” he said. “My coaches have often criticised me for that, they wanted me to play in a more classic way. But I don’t understand that ‘ordinary’ style. I can’t force myself to change. I think a goalkeeper should feel the game and the ball. So I play as I feel it. Sometimes I feel that my style is a disadvantage, that it would be better to be more patient. Yet I’ve been performing at this level for a long time, and the most important criterion should be the result.”

The role of a goalkeeper has changed as the game is evolving. With play become quicker, goalkeepers face a more difficult, yet even more important task than ever.

“Look at the stats,” Chupryna said. “Previously it was a small miracle when someone made 50% saves. Now it’s the norm.”

Chupryna and Presov want to continue their good run. Their remaining programme includes visits to group leaders Bjerringbro and to Chekhovskie Medvedi before a home game against HC Metalurg wraps up the group phase.

But first up are Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, on Sunday at 13:30 CET (live on

“The game at Bjerringbro will be very important for us,” the goalkeeper said. “It’s a very tough opponent with many quality players and even handball legends who used to play for Barcelona and other big clubs in the past.”

Presov have already beaten the Danish side this season, while both teams won their respective home games last season when they met in the EHF Cup Group Phase.

Last season, Presov failed to advance from the qualification tournament they were hosting. A year later, they are on the brink of the group phase knockout. Is that the effect from the arrival of mastermind Goluza on the team’s bench?

“We had a good pre-season preparation. Also, we are more used to Slavko Goluza’s style now,” Chupryna said about the coach. “Last season, everything was new. The coach taught us the Croatian style, but here in Slovakia people did not know much about it. But now we have adjusted to it, learned to play the way Goluza wants, especially in attack.”

TEXT: Tomas Cuncik, Sergey Nikolaev / ew