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14.09.2010, 09:20◄ last page     

VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League countdown, part 17: St. Petersburg HC (RUS)

Pino and the premiere

Welcome to Europe! For the first time ever St. Petersburg HC from Russia competes in a European Cup – and they qualified straight for the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League Group Phase as runners-up of the Russian league.

St. Petersburg was the only team which could catch up to champion Chekhovskie Medvedi, but in the end they lost both finals against the squad of Vladimir Maximov.

Best known figure in St. Petersburg handball is the coach: Dmitry Torgovanov, nicknamed "Pino", as he was called "Pinocchio", when he arrived at the German club Wallau-Massenheim.

For Torgovanov St. Petersburg – the city where he was born – is the first job as a coach after finishing his outstanding career in 2009 as a player for HSV Hamburg.

The former pivot and excellent defence specialist was once Olympics Champion, once World Champion and twice European Champion with the Russian national team as well as EHF Cup winner with Essen (Germany).

Before he arrived to Germany in 1996 Torgovanov played for the "Newa" team in St. Petersburg.

It was a pure coincidence that the tall and powerful line player started playing handball. There were three sports arenas in St. Petersburg – one with basketball, one with handball and one with track and fields. "I started playing basketball, but then this arena was refurbished. So I changed the hall and started with handball instead."

Now he’s the coach of the team that arrived in the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League only one year after the start of his career on the sideline.

The Russians will meet high-class opponents in Ciudad Real, Flensburg, Zagreb, Constanta and Sarajevo. So the club’s official season goal isn’t aiming too high: "We want to finish second in the Russian league again and at the same time gain experience in international competitions and keep our level high," Torgovanov said.

His opinion about the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League: "Players, coaches and managers of our club greatly respect the clubs which we are going to encounter. We consider it as an honour to get experience in international matches with the best European teams. Considering the great responsibility towards our fans and considering that it’s the first time the St. Petersburg handball team takes part in the elite competition, our team trains hard to solve those objectives."

St. Petersburg signed three new players – among them one with CL experience, Vladyslav Ostroushko from ZTR Zaporozhe. Two more Russian players will improve the team in which former Chekhov goalkeeping legend Alexei Otsego is still a key player.

Key facts

Newcomers: Vladyslav Ostroushko (ZTR Zaporozhe), Alexey Shindin, Ruslan Gaboev (SKIF Krasnodar)

Left the club: Viacheslav Nelubin, Alexey Getmanov (Energy Voronez), Roman Ayzatyllov

Coach: Dmitry Torgovanov (RUS, head coach), Konstantin Andreenko (coach)

Club records

Russian runners-up 2010, first ever appearance in European Cups

Find more information here.

TEXT: Björn Pazen

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