The head coach of the Russian men’s national team shared his impressions with Handballfast journalist about Viktor Lavrov memorial and told about the nearest plans.
— Are you in Stavropol for the first time?
— Yes, and I’m really impressed with a beautiful, clean and well-kept city with modern houses and streets, with lots of greenery and flowers. I would like to thank the HC Victor director Ivan Fiev and Igor Lavrov (the Olympic champion in 2000 and son of the Stavropol club’s founder Viktor Lavrov — Handballfast). They showed me Stavropol and assisted a lot during these days.
Originally, last week I was going to Chelyabinsk, but at the last moment I decided to visit the Lavrov memorial. I wanted to see young and new players.
— Whom exactly?
— I wouldn't like to mention the names, it may have the opposite effect. However, among the players in Sravropol I would point Ruslan Dashko returned from Spain. He was interesting to me even a year ago, and now he played for HC SKIF well. Artem Ponomarev looked confident in HC SGAU-Saratov, Egor Kochura and Inal Aflitulin — in HC Victor. And Aleksander Grebenkin is really talented.
— Did you like the tournament as a whole?
— Yes, I was pleased with it. I was impressed with the organization. I visited lots of tournaments in different countries and Lavrov Cup fully corresponds to such level. The hotel and sport centre are excellent. I appreciated specifically the handball level. However, practically all strong Russian clubs plus HC SKA Minsk played in Stavropol, with the exception of HC Neva SPb and HC Permskie medvedi.
Of course, HC Chekhovskie Medvedi and HC CSKA didn’t surprise me a lot, everything is already known about them. But HC Skif Krasnodar, SGAU-Saratov and even Kaustic Volgograd impressed me a lot. They demonstrated fast handball of high level. And, of course, HC Victor, who won the title and achieved an amazing progress. A good team is built in Stavropol. I suppose, the competition at the Russian Championship will increase.
Yes, it was a friendly tournament. Yes, the players from Chekhov looked tired, which affected their play. But the same HC Victor made a great game, so I guess not only two teams will fight for the top places in the Super League. I heard, some changes are expected in HC Neva SPb, it will become stronger. Still there is HC Permskie Medvedi, thus there should be four-five strong clubs.
— Are you acquainted with Sergey Gorbok, the head coach of HC Victor?
— We have known each other for ten or fifteen years. Since I came to Russia, We talked and met several times. I am glad, Sergey started coaching career and already won the title. He can always seek my advice. Sergey used to be an excellent player and I hope he will become a good coach.
— You said, HC SKA Minsk plays differently than Russian clubs. What impression did they make in Stavropol?
— I have always liked Belarusian handball. Now HC SKA Minsk came without eight or nine major players, caused by Yury Shevtsov in the national team. And I can’t say that their absence was strongly felt. Yes, sometimes they didn’t have enough experience, that resulted in defeats. The line-up was too young. But these guys already know how to play. So, I was convinced another time that Igor Papruga is a top coach and they know how to prepare the youth in HC SKA.
— What are your nearest plans?
— Sunday evening I returned to Moscow. Now I’m going to rest a few days, and then the Spartakiad starts and I’ll be watching handball attentively.
Besides, I keep in touch with colleagues from European national teams. Many of them require sparring partners before World Championship in January. So, perhaps, we will manage to hold friendly matches in winter. It’s important for us, we hope to show that we still exist and keep working.
Photo: press services of HC Victor, the HFR
Authors: Sergey Nikolaev / M.Lyubimova