Ukrainian champions aiming for debut at the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League
Bebeshko set to lead HC Motor
Last season saw a Belarusian club reach the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League for the first time. Dinamo Minsk, coached by Ukrainian Sergej Bebeshko, saw their run come to an end against Macedonian side HC Metalurg with a five-goal defeat over two legs.
Despite the historical result with Minsk, 45-year-old Bebeshko accepted a new challenge and headed to Ukrainian champions HC Motor Zaporozhye on a two-year contract.
Former interim coach Nikolay Stepanets, who won Motor’s first championship, has become Bebeshko’s first assistant.
“I can’t imagine a better assistant than Nikolay. We played together for SCA Kiev and we have always been friends,” said Bebeshko.
Bebeshko’s playing career started in his home city of Kiev between 1985 and 1992. As Olympic champion in 1992 with the Unified Team he moved to Spain playing for Cuenca (1992/93) and Ciudad Real (1993-2000).
His final Spanish club was Mellia in the second division in 2000/01, before moving to France, where he played three seasons with Villeurbanne (2001-2004) and TOUR (2004/05).
Bebeshko’s head coaching debut was in 2005 with Spanish second division club Forkusa (2005-2007) and the season 2008/09 he coached Labaro, leading them towards promotion to Spain’s top flight.
Big future for Motor
He began working with Dinamo Minsk in December 2009, where he achieved his greatest successes to date.
“I have mixed feelings about leaving Minsk. Of course, it is a little sad, working for four years in Belarus I won four national championships and achieved good results in the Champions League.
“On other hand I am very interested to turn a new page in Ukraine. I think Motor has a big future and my objective is to make the team better and better.
“First of all, we will look to qualify for the Group Phase of the Champions League and we want to win the national championship and cup as well,” explained the optimistic coach.
“I knew that Motor are ambitious have steady financial support of handball loving people.
"The invitation from Motor was not such a big surprise for me, though I appreciate the management for their trust,” added the 1992 Olympic gold medal winner.
The third part of the coaching staff will be Nikolay Pluiko, who will continue working with the goalkeepers.
Three players from Minsk will follow their coach to his new club: Ukrainian line player Alexandr Shevelev, former Motor player and right-handed back court Vladislav Ostroushko and Russian left winger Oleg Skopintsev.
Another Motor newcomer is line player of Belarusian national team, and recent Challenge Cup winner with SKA Minsk, Alexandr Titov.
Motor’s new coach will face his first serious test in the qualifying tournament for Europe’s elite competitions in Novi Sad (Serbia) on 31 August.
In their semi-final, Zaporozhye will face Bosnia’s Borac Banja Luka, while the winner of HC Alpla Hard (Austria) and Vojvodina (Serbia) will be waiting in the final.
“Our group is not very tough in comparison to the one my former team Dinamo Minsk has. However, we do not intend to underestimate our rivals.
“In my opinion, HC Alpla Hard are a very dangerous opponent. The fact that the Serbians are playing at home means that they can also cause a surprise,” concluded Bebeshko.
The winners of the two semi-finals will meet on 1 September for a place in the 24-team competition.
TEXT: Igor Grachov / cor