Brest want to get back on track
After failing to reach the EHF Champions League Last 16 for the first time in five years last season, HC Meshkov Brest hope to do better in their new campaign.
Having made some changes to their squad, the Belarusian champions are determined to reach the play-offs this time.
Main facts bullet points
- Brest won Belarusian league for seventh successive year and 12th time overall in 2019/20
- last season Brest failed to reach Last 16 for first time since 2014/15
- Spanish head coach Raul Alonso extended his contract for another season in May
- William Accambray, Nemanja Obradovic, Artsiom Kulak, Darko Dukic, Branko Kankaras and Daniel Andrejew left the club
- to replace them, Stas Skube, Dmitrii Santalov, Pawel Paczkowski and Vladimir Vranjes joined Brest in summer
Most important question: Will Brest find balance in their squad?
Last season, the Belarusian team failed to live up to expectations at international level, as they did not progress from their group in the Europe’s premier club competition.
But Brest are back in the revamped EHF Champions League, and they are eager to show that they belong on this level.
Last season, it took some time for the players to get used to Raul Alonso’s system, but now they are more familiar with it. Moreover, the summer signings are expected to bring more balance to Meshkov’s roster.
Centre back Stas Skube will help the team with his vision, speed and playmaking abilities. Pawel Paczkowski can support Marko Panic, who spent the full 60 minutes on court in many matches last season due to a lack of alternatives on the right back position.
Also, with Vladimir Vranjes Brest have acquired a line player who is very good in defence, and left back Dmitrii Santalov adds power to the back court.
Brest also lost players, most notably William Accambray who opted to return to his native France.
However, Brest’s renewed squad certainly has the potential to get in the mix for the play-off spots.
Under the spotlight: Stas Skube
The 30-year-old Slovenian playmaker will certainly help Brest with his quality and experience. During his career, he has played for RK Trimo Trebnje, RK Gorenje Velenje, SC Pick Szeged and RK Vardar, winning the EHF Champions League with the North Macedonian side in 2019.
In previous years Skube declined several offers from Brest, yet the Belarusian side’s persistence paid off as they finally signed their desired player in the summer of 2020.
How they rate themselves
“We had a good transfer campaign and achieved balance in the squad. The roster looks efficient. We want to be competitive in every game and hope to reach at least the fourth place in the group,” says sports director Pavel Bashkin.
“I think we will have a great motivation to finally play in the Champions League after this long break caused by the pandemic. We have a good team this year, and we have to show the maximum,” says captain Ivan Pesic.
Did you know?
Bosnian right back Marko Panic has a rare quality in modern handball as he can shoot equally well with both hands. The 29-year-old, who moved to Brest in 2019 from KS Azoty-Pulawy, mostly uses his left hand, but two or three times per game he switches to the right, which often confuses the opponents.
What the numbers say
In the Belarusian league Brest are hard to beat. They have become the national champions for seven consecutive years now, and they are determined to extend that streak.
Newcomers and left the team
Newcomers: Dmitrii Santalov (Chekhovskie Medvedi), Stas Skube (HC Vardar 1961), Pawel Paczkowski (PGE VIVE Kielce), Vladimir Vranjes (Tatabanya KC)
Left the club: William Accambray (Pays d’Aix Universite Club Handball), Nemanja Obradovic (HC PPD Zagreb), Artsiom Kulak (Chekhovskie Medvedi), Darko Dukic (Sporting SP), Branko Kankaras (RK Metalurg Skopje), Daniel Andrejew
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2018/2019 season): 12
Last 16 (4): 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Group Phase (6): 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2014/15, 2019/20
Qualification (1): 2008/09
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-final 2011/12
SEHA Liga: Final 2014, 2015
Belarusian league: 12 titles (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Belarusian cup: 11 titles (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)