It’s always pleasant to win but victory over a strong contender is doubly satisfying. SKA Minsk’s 34:30 defeat of Gornik — the Polish Championship bronze medallist — bodes well for its continuation beyond the second round of the EHF Cup.
During the game between Minsk SKA and Polish Gornik
SKA Minsk is the most intriguing team in Belarusian handball, although HC Meshkov Brest is the unconditional favourite, playing in the higher level League of Champions. Each team has its own plans and goals, as emphasised by the Director General of SKA Minsk, Pavel Galkin, who is determined to see his team win the National Championship. Meanwhile, Spartak Mironovich, who manages the reserve team for SKA Minsk, also has hopes for his players. Both have their sights set on performing favourably during European Cup matches, giving their players experience through regular matches with worthy opponents. Unfortunately, few home teams can push them in the manner required.
SKA has begun the EHF Cup with four confident victories, while the Brest team will only join at the final stage, being already recognised as a strong contender. Minsk, meanwhile, must prove itself worthy, swatting weaker squads along the way. However, analysing SKA’s recent match, it will need to tighten its game if it wishes to go ‘all the way’. Although it disconcerted its rivals initially, thanks to Ivan Matskevich’s diligence, the team’s lead was negligible (just four balls): they were certainly in danger of being caught, since goals can be scored within minutes — as has been often proven.
There’s no doubt that SKA has proven something important but it will have to play to the best of its ability if it is to defeat the Poles during the return match, and go through to the next round. Gornik head coach Patrik Liljestrand has promised to lead his team to ‘revenge’ and, given the calibre of the squad, we can be sure that he means what he says.