World Handball Tournament gives some food for thought

Belarus’ national handball team finishes 15th in World Handball Championship 1/8 final, hosted by Spain, losing to Croatia — one of the tournament’s favourites
By Kirill Pirogov

Croatia, the recent Olympic bronze medallist, proved a formidable opponent, while the Spaniards finished second in their sub-group. The Belarusian squad had little chance of success, but performed well.

In 1995, the Belarusian national handball team took part in the World Men’s Handball Championship finals for the first time, coming 9th (although the match system was different at that time). The result was considered to be a failure, especially as those who performed under the guidance of newly appointed coach Spartak Mironovich had experience of the EuroCup and the Olympics. The defeat by Germany in the 1/8 finals left our team failing to qualify for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

The Belarusian team reached this stage for the second time this year, 18 years later, despite their young age. Spartak Mironovich, who still heads the team, cannot conceal his optimism, saying, “We still have a rather young national squad so 16th place at the World Championship is rather pleasing. The match against the Croatians has raised some questions regarding our style of play but we hope to reach the top ten at the next tournament or, even, reach the Olympics. We don’t have too many players but if we work well, we may find the task achievable.”

The current head of the team, Yuri Shevtsov, agrees with his colleague, telling us, “The championship has shown us how we stand in the world hierarchy and where our weaknesses lie, so we can plan our next step. We’ll continue and will eventually be beating our rivals. This task will be solved simultaneously with another: qualifying for the European Championship. In late March, we’ll have another training camp before meeting the Romanians.”
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