Velimir Petkovich: "Many players made progress in tactics, positional attacks, equal quality game"

30 August 2022
The head coach of the men’s national team of Russia in the conversation with Handballfast journalist shared his impressions of the Spartakiad handball tournament, which finished yesterday. 
 — Did you watch many matches?
 — Yes, I was constantly at the court. It was like a seminar to me or like a whole championship. It’s not so easy just to sit for 8-9 hours, moreover, not on vip seats, but, shall we say, on ordinary ones. But now I appreciate the fans even more, who come and support the teams. 
I suppose, the Spartakiad turned out to be successful, it was a real handball holiday. Probably, we could use one more such a tournament, it could be called something different, for instance, after sponsors. The more matches are held, the better. Some clubs held five-six games in Stavropol and now seven-eight matches on the Spartakiad under a different title. Altogether there were 12-14 games within a month, it’s excellent! 
 — Some players complained about too tight schedule…
 — Perhaps, it would be better, if the matches would have been held every other day. Such a schedule would have been less busy, the players could have rest and restore the strength. It would have been easier for them to show their best qualities. Taking into account the timetable, it was especially hard for teams with short bench. If someone dropped off the ranks due to injuries, it affected the team. But it was the only drawback. In general I saw many exciting games and strong players. 
 — Would you point out someone individually?
 — When I headed the national team, I announced immediately that we have problems with the right back position. We had Dmitry Kiselev and Sasha Kotov, with nobody behind them. And if Kiselev was out of the ranks, it was hard for Kotov to play alone. I don’t mean that he is not qualified enough. It was just easier for competitors to adapt to our play, and it had an impact during the top tournament. But at the moment the competition on this position has increased. I saw it clearly at the Spartakiad — Sergey Ivanov, Nikita Kamenev, Dmitry Svistunov and Valery Verein have performed well. I would also point out Andrey Belyaev, who lost a year in Chekhov, but in Stavropol proved again to be a player of high class and is interesting to the national team.  
We have enough difficulties with the position of goalkeeper. But the Spartakiad showed that there are not only Kireev and Pavlenko. Vereshagin reliably defended the gates of Astrakhan team, Lisenko protected the gates of Stavropol team, the Saint-Petersburg team has a good goalkeeper as well. All this inspires me, and on Monday I returned home from Chekhov in good mood.  
 — What teams did surprise you?
 — Everyone is talking about unsuccessful performance of the Moscow team. But I would like to say another thing. Many squads made progress in tactics, positional attacks, equal quality game. The Perm and Stavropol teams effectively implemented a defensive scheme 5-1. Saint-Petersburg also performed well, although played without several leaders. It proves that Dmitry Torgovanov is doing good work. I look to the future with optimism and expect the competition at the Russian championship will increase.  
 — But at the Spartakiad HC Chekhovskie Medvedi, played as the Moscow region team, clearly dominated…
 — After all, they have more experience and individual skills. There are two-three excellent players on each position. Santalov, Sasha Kotov, Pavlenko confirmed the level. Moreover, the tournament was held in Chekhov, and it’s always easier on your own court.   
 — Did you feel happy for the Stavropol team for winning the bronze, lead by your good acquaintance Sergey Gorbok?
 — Of course, I’m pleased with Sergey. I’m happy that a young coach appeared in Russian handball, who, I hope,  will grow in a good specialist. We know each other for 10-15 years, we met even in Bundesliga. And now during the Spartakiad we called up a couple of times. 
In particular, we talked after the game with the Perm region team, when Sergey lost his nerve. I remember how I got nervous in my youth, when it seemed to me that the referees were mistaken. But there are some boundaries that cannot be crossed. Since the coach should be an authority for his players and referees. I told Sergey about this as an older friend and he understood me. Sergey works with all his heart, but he lacks experience. And the arbiters after all are getting prepared to the season and haven’t hit the optimal form yet.  
 — Did you manage to monitor the women’s tournament of the Spartakiad as well? 
 — I would like to, I watch women’s handball with pleasure. But, unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time. I came to the arena early in the morning and returned in the evening.
 — How did you find the organization of the competitions?
 — When you spend the whole day long on the court, sometimes you want to drink tea or coffee. But I had no possibility to do this at the arena, I had to go to the shop or cafe. It’s a little thing, but a buffet could be arranged. It’s not a criticism but rather a wish. 
And I would be better to put the hosts matches not for the evening, but earlier. Because the games involving them gathered much more viewers, than other games. If they were held not after other meetings, probably, fans could have come to the arena earlier and left later.   
 — What are your nearest plans?
 — Finally, I would like to concentrate on obtaining a Master Coach license. I sent all the required documents to Zagreb and I am waiting to be given the green light on the diploma defense. Moreover, I’m going to attend the Supercup of Russia September, 11. And then we’ll be preparing to the October training camp, which will be held in Minsk. 
Photo: press service of the HFR, HC Chekhovskie medvedi
Authors: Sergey Nikolaev, M.Lyubimova
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