The Belarusian handball team beat Macedonia 30:29 in the final match of the second stage of the European Championship, hosted by Poland, to finish the tournament in 10th place. Yuri Shevtsov’s revitalised team showed several promising moments.
A moment from Belarus-Macedonia match
The team’s appetite grew during the match. Initially aiming to reach the second round, they later set a more serious goal: to get through to the Olympic qualification round. Unfortunately, they were unable to maximize their chances and it was the Norwegians who sensationally reached the semi-finals. The second place in the semis went to the Swedes.
Some commentators have expressed the opinion that our team failed to fully realise its potential. The recent championship was an extremely competitive event: each team was able to conquer the favourites. Yuri Shevtsov’s trainees showed their strength only once, when playing the highest scoring match in the history of the European championships and defeating Iceland (39:38). They were worthy rivals for the Croatians, Norwegians, Poles and Swedes but their lack of experience showed and they failed to reach the next round.
The potential of the younger generation is probably the major positive of the Belarusian team’s performance in Poland. Our debutantes grew in confidence with each new match. Our country has lacked a talented youth team with such sporting ambitions for a long time. Vyacheslav Soldatenko, Alexey Khadkevich, Andrey Yurinok, Vladislav Kulesh and Artem Korolek played wonderfully and we hoped they’d realise Belarus’ handball Olympic dream.
In the last match against Macedonia, even without team leaders Sergey Rutenko and Sergey Shilovich, absent due to injury and illness, they showed that the new generation of Belarusian handballers play well.
The 2017 World Championships will take place in France. The time when we were happy merely with our team participating in top tournaments is in the past: at present, we expect more. The three best teams of the European Championships will go through to the world event (in addition to France which is the acting champion and the host). The remaining twelve teams, who played in Poland, will take part in play-off matches. There is hope that the Belarusian team will win the chance to travel to France.
By Sergey Kanashits