Talant Dujshebaev: "I’ve never been a supporter of playoffs in championships. It’s an American fiction!"

3 June 2024
The ward of the Soviet handball school, one of the greatest handball players of the XXth century Talant Dujshebaev, grew up on the postulate that there is no other place than the first. As a player, he won the 1992 Olympics (with the so-called Unified team — the sports team of former Soviet Union), won the 1993 World Championship with the national team of Russia, and the number of gold medals in national championships as a player and as a coach, not to mention Cups, cannot be counted! 
That is why, one can guess, it is particularly insulting for him to finish the season without any trophy at all. Indeed, it’s not very desirable to press on vulnerability, especially when Talant Ibraimovich had his birthday on Sunday, June 2 — the head coach of Polish Vive Kielce turned 56, and Handballfast warmly congratulates him with it. But the degree in journalism obliges not to avoid the unpleasant issue…
 — This is just a myth! At first, you had a series of seven-meter penalties with Magdeburg after a referee mistake and didn’t get to the Champions League Final Four. Then you lost to Wisla Plock twice as a result of penalty shots after the rival’s goals before the end of the match… Honestly, have you already phycologically settled down?
 — You asked me directly, but I will start from a bit more remote point. I recall well, who I am and where I’m from. That is why one and even two or three losses can’t knock me out of the saddle. Whatever happens, you should be able to stand up, when you are knocked down. Exactly when you are knocked down, not knocked out. You should get up and continue fighting.
Even simply according to the theory of probability, there can’t be 7 billion of happy people on Earth at once. It’s just impossible. But everyone should be able to fight. And if something happens, everyone needs time to recover. So that vacation is pretty convenient now. To think over the past.
And it’s important to remember that life is beautiful on its own. Regardless wins or losses. Well, there is another point. Sometimes fortune turns its face on you, and sometimes quite the opposite. In that match with Magdeburg, which you have mentioned, the score was a draw, but we could have won, if the referee had allowed Korolek to throw, but in both meetings with Wisla we won literally in the final seconds. But in the first match Samoilo scored from nine meters after the expire of regulation time. And in the second meeting the ball after Fazekas’s throw ahead of the final siren first hit the post, then hit the heel of Andreas Wolff and only after that got to the gate!                      
  — I remember you saying in our conversation following the results of Euro-24: "In all honesty, this greatly executed throw of Prandy couldn’t be counted, no matter how beautiful it looked — the violation of rules is evident… If you’ve already stepped one foot, you can’t take the other leg off". Do you agree that, in fact, the same goal, performed by Samoilo this time, was counted for you now?
 — I understand: you need loud phrases, that can turn to quotes, but I won’t please you in this case. Since I realize, that I can be disqualified for public evaluation of actions of arbitrators (and not only arbitrators). That is why sometimes I have to say something politically correct, not what the mass media needs. And, of course, in this case, when my team was playing, let’s try to avoid public strict assessments: after all, people read Handballfast everywhere.
 — However, your assistant Krzysztof Lijevski spoke with a quite transparent hint to the fact that the same company is a sponsor of Wisla Plock and the whole league, and he has almost been sued for it…
 — Look, did he tell a lie? What’s wrong? Indeed, the truth always hurts someone. So what, obvious things should’t be said loud for that reason?  How is it generally possible in the modern world that the same company sponsors the league and the contender for the championship? Again, this question is not for me... Obviously, we are going to fight for Lijevski. And I will pay attention again: he didn’t insult anyone, he just cited uncomfortable for someone facts.
 — Let’s turn from scandals to the play: what do you think of its quality in the final of the Polish championship? And how does the limit, according to which two players with polish citizenship should definitely be on the court, interferes with it? 
 — Firstly, this formula of determining the best is not close to me at all. I’ve never supported playoffs in championships. It’s an American fiction. And why do we need it? There are Cups, where actually the strongest is defined by the Cup’s system. And if we finish with playoffs here, then what for are we playing, for instance, 26 or 30 tours before it?   
Regarding the limit, it certainly works against handball, and it concerns both us and Wisla Plock. And if it’s invented in the interest of the national team, it would be logical to introduce a rule that two young players should play 30 minutes. It’s more correct, than a situation when 37-year-old Krajewski or Daszek, who is also in his thirties, play the entire match. And they don’t go to the national team after that… And how can we win anything at international level due to such limit?
 — And why are you so unlucky in penalty shootout?
 — I even don’t know what to say, because I consider these series to be a lottery, where someone is lucky, while someone is not. That is why we don’t prepare for it specifically.
You know, the thing is that there are masters, like our Area Moryto. He is a true penalty shooter. And he scores in a game and in a post-match series. And if you are not a specialist in seven-meter throws, you can’t specifically train it before the match.
 — How do you chose shooters before the series? In advance or at the last moment? Do you appoint them? Or does anyone volunteer?
 — Not in advance for sure. Regarding the circumstances. And, of course, Moryto goes, being the best penalty shooter. I suppose, there’s no need to appoint them either. Usually, the one who volunteers is the one who throws. But I asked Cezary Surgiel in the last game with Wisla if he was ready. And he answered that he didn’t play the whole match and didn’t feel confidence in himself. And I understood him.
 — Can you say a couple of words about Kielce transfers? About announced and expected…
 — No, I won’t. There are people, who are responsible for it, they should comment on it. I am a coach. And I don’t have to interfere with a foreign eparchy. And vice versa. There is an excellent expression, that I like — no one is above the club!
 — Will you go on the Champions League Final Four now? 
 — No, I won’t. No offense, I don’t want to watch it at all. It was so painful on May 1. I’m not a capricious boy, certainly. But I think, that we should rightly be participants of the Final Four, not spectators. However, we return to the beginning of our conversation... 
 — Then, let’s get back to more pleasant things. Did you mention the necessity of rest? 
 — Yes, I definitely need to rest and gain strength, to be charged with sunlight and energy… And we’ll start preparing for the coming season on June 29 — the players will return from vacation. They will certainly work on their individual tasks until this date. But anyone will tell you that it’s more pleasant (smiling). 
 — Let’s talk about something good: Talant Ibraimovich, the Spanish included you in the ASOBAL League Hall of Fame a few days ago. Did you visit the ceremony?
 — No, you see, my whole attention was directed to our final series with Wisla, it would have been categorically wrong to get distracted. But in general… I’m thankful for including me, but I never forget that we are a team sport, after all!           
 — And to finish on a positive note: you had your birthday on June 2. How did you celebrate? Who was the first one to congratulate you? What gifts were memorable?
 — Danya was the first to congratulate me, as usual. And my elder brother Elmis, but he has an advantage — he lives in Kyrgyzstan, a country with a difference of four hours regarding Central European time, the 2nd of June started earlier there (smiling).
I celebrated with my family in a restaurant. And concerning memorable gifts… My eldest grandson wanted to present me a chocolate medal. And, frankly speaking, he expected to unwrap it immediately, remove chocolate and eat it. But it turned out that he bought not a chocolate medal, but an ordinary souvenir one and was a little disappointed (smiling). But I was very pleased indeed, the greatest gift is that my grandson is waiting, he worries about me, loves and appreciates me!
Photo: personal archive of Talant Dujshebaev, Cksport, kielcehandball        
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