By Yuri Kovalev
In the opening match in Olsberg, at the Gigantium Arena, watched by four thousand spectators, Yuri Shevtsov’s squad lost to the Danes (the favourites of the seventh qualification group). The final score was 33:41.
Boris Pukhovsky (Dynamo Minsk) was the best striker on the Belarusian squad (scoring nine times), followed by the most expensive handball player in the world, Sergey Rutenko (playing for Belarus), who scored four times. Interestingly, this was the first match where Sergey was playing officially with his younger brother, Denis.
The last time that Belarus played equally against Denmark was in 1994. Unfortunately, our team now lags behind in experience, strength and skill. Few can repel the sharp attacks of the Danish squad, which usually result in goals. Belarus failed to pose any real threat to this formidable squad and looked exhausted by the final whistle. The head coach of the Belarusian national men’s handball team scolded them after the match, lamenting, “You failed to find your own style of play!”
Our coach was hardly happier at the Victoria Brest Sports Complex, where they were beaten 39:32 by Russia. The score was less shameful but the team needs to finish first or second in its group to reach the finals of the 2012 European Championship. With few points, we have little hope of achieving this goal. Play will continue in March 2011.