The Slovakian champions TATRAN Presov finished their journey in the EHF Champions League 2016/2017 last weekend. In the 10th round of Group C in the EHF Champions League TATRAN Presov impressively beat Spanish vice champions Naturhouse La Rioja 30:27 in TATRAN Handball Arena, Presov, Slovakia. The Eastern Slovakian team significantly improved their credit and managed to reach 5 points more compared to the previous EHF Champions League campaign 2015/2016. In the EHF Champions League Group C TATRAN finally finished 4th securing 9 points for 4 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses this season.The owner of TATRAN Presov Miloslav Chmeliar is convinced that performances delivered by his club in the EHF Champions League 2016/2017 overcame expectations of handball experts and public: “Last Champions League 2015/2016 season we played mostly with 8 players. Most of them did not stay in the club in the beginning of this season. Experienced players Vasja Furlan, Radoslav Antl, Andrej Petro, Michal Kopco, Alexander Radchenko, who played a lot of time in the games of the EHF Champions League, left the team. Ivkovic, Bozic and Poganyi left too. Before this season 2016/2017 we renewed the team by the players of not such a high quality compared to the players who left. Despite that we managed to get completely different and better results in the EHF Champions League 2016/2017. Last season we finished the bottom of the group. This season we took 4th place of Group C with 9 points. If we had not allowed an unfortunate goal in the last second of the game in Elverum, and also had kept 25:22 lead over Norwegian champions at home court 7 minutes to go, we would have played the decisive game vs La Rioja to qualify for the next stages of the EHF Champions League last Saturday. I personally think if we had played 3 other games vs Elverum at home, we would have won them all. Overall, I evaluate our display in the EHF Champions League 2016/2017 as successful one.”TATRAN Presov are traditionally the biggest favourites to win the Slovakian title. Winning another title should guarantee TATRAN a better place in the EHF Champions League 2017/2018 draw in June 2017. However, the owner of TATRAN Miloslav Chmeliar is a pragmatic person and knows that his team cannot afford to underestimate any of their rivals: “At first we have to succeed in the Slovakian Extraleague. Today no one can tell us, provided we win the Slovakian title, if we have to play the qualification for the group stages of the EHF Champions League 2017/2018 or we are directly seeded into the group stages of the EHF Champions League 2017/2018. We will patiently wait if 9 points, which we obtained in Group C of the EHF Champions League 2016/2017, help us to guarantee a direct place in the group stages of the EHF Champions League next season. However, the first step is to win the Slovakian title once again.”The owner of TATRAN Presov Miloslav Chmeliar was satisfied not only with performances of the starting squad of the team, but also with performances of the substitutes who proved their potential and quality too in the course of the entire group stage of the EHF Champions League 2016/2017. However, he would like to highlight performances of his 2 team leaders: “The first one is our goalkeeper Igor Chupryna and the second one is our left back Oliver Rabek (the best scorer of TATRAN with 52 goals) . Both of them are the players with top European parameters. However, other players joined them in many games – line player Leon Vucko, both wingers Jakub Hrstka (2nd best scorer of the team with 46 goals) and Tomas Cip. We cannot forget excellent and reliable performances of left back Dominik Krok and centre back Lukas Urban. Right back Alexey Peskov also played several outstanding matches. Those were the players we could definitely rely on.”The owner of TATRAN Presov Miloslav Chmeliar is sure that 5-year participation of the Slovakian champions in SEHA Gazprom League, which belongs to the best European handball leagues, contributed to the better results of his team in the EHF Champions League 2016/2017: “TATRAN have been playing in SEHA Gazprom League for five years. This multinational league brings a lot of tough and high quality games throughout its season. In SEHA Gazprom League we have to play 18 demanding matches in the regular season. Every encounter in SEHA League has the same quality as the EHF Champions League games. In SEHA League our players gain valuable experiences and resistance against these strong teams they play. SEHA Leagues certainly helped TATRAN a lot. As for the EHF Champions League, it is difficult for us to compare ourselves to the best European clubs. On the other side, I can provide an excellent example of the top rival. Naturhouse La Rioja have been the second best team of Spanish Liga ASOBAL for a long time. Spanish Liga ASOBAL ranks among 4 best handball leagues in the world together with German Bundesliga, French Lidl Starligue and multinational SEHA Gazprom League. Despite that we managed to beat Naturhouse La Rioja in TATRAN Handball Arena and win the 1st half in Logrono, which we have to appreciate a lot.”The biggest long time problem of TATRAN Presov is a huge number of games they have to play throughout one season. The Slovakian champions should get rid of this burden if they do not participate in the regular season of the Slovakian Extraleague. But it is not possible according to the owner of TATRAN Miloslav Chmeliar: “It is true we have to play more than 80 games in 4 different competitions every season. It is a big problem for us because we do not know if we are going to play in the EHF Champions League. We will know it after the EHF Champions League draw in summer, if we have to play the qualification for the group stages of the EHF Champions League or we are directly seeded into the group stages of the EHF Champions League. Then it is logical we can never say in September we will not play in the Slovakian Extraleague, which is usually prepared in the beginning of calendar year, so we have to send an application for next Slovakian Extraleague season. At that time we do not know if we play or do not play in the EHF Champions League. I will provide a simple example. If we were not directly seeded into the group stages after the EHF Champions League draw, we would have to play the qualification. We would need to win it in order to qualify for the group stages of the EHF Champions League. If we did not succeed in the qualification, what could we possibly play further? We would not play in the Slovakian Extraleague. We would not play in the group stages of the EHF Champions League because we would not qualify. We would play in the 3rd round of the EHF Cup at the turn of November and December. If we would qualify from the 3rd round of the EHF Cup, the group stages of this cup would be played in spring. To sum up, in such a case we would play only in the SEHA Gazprom League. It is true that SEHA League is the only top handball league whose strong sponsor pays clubs for everything. There are exact duties and rights for the clubs in SEHA League. As for the duties, clubs have to secure sport halls at least for 3000 spectators, special handball surface Gerfloor, special LED panels for advertisements, live coverage of SEHA League games. As for the rights, SEHA League pays completely for everything – travelling and accommodation costs for clubs, referees and delegates, and other things connected with it. No one handball league is so materially secured as SEHA Gazprom League. I do not like the only thing about SEHA League. Veszprem can serve as the best example. In the previous SEHA League season 2015/2016 the Hungarian champions were allowed to play 4 games in advance in August. Later on in December they could play 3 postponed matches after they played all their games in the group stages of the EHF Champions League. It results from all above mentioned facts that TATRAN could possibly play only 10-12 games in autumn because they would not play in the Slovakian Extraleague, they would not play in the EHF Champions League. They would only play in the 3rd round of the EHF Cup at the turn of November and December and several matches in SEHA League, which would not be postponed. There is only one strange thing about SEHA League. Many games are usually postponed or timetable is changed, so you never know which team and when you are going to play. All above mentioned facts discourage us not to play the Slovakian Extraleague.”The owner of TATRAN Presov Miloslav Chmeliar is an experienced and successful top manager who thoroughly makes plans for the next season 2017/2018: “The Slovakian Extraleague should be replaced by the Czech – Slovakian League next season. We do not expect any problems for us. It is even closer to travel to Moravia for us in comparison with travelling to Bratislava. Four trips to Prague along the highway is also easy. We want to play in the Czech – Slovakian League and SEHA Gazprom League. We will see, if we manage to defend the Slovakian title. If we win it, we have to wait for the EHF decision, if we are directly seeded into the group stages of the EHF Champions League or we have to play the qualification for the group stages of the EHF Champions League. We have to go step by step. The first one is to win the Slovakian title. As for the composition of our team in the next season 2017/2018, we will continue in giving opportunities to our home grown players of TATRAN. The actual question is if we establish a new junior team of TATRAN (TATRAN Presov B) because we have a lot of skilful youth players in our teams. We have already analysed this issue with our youth coaches. When Czech – Slovakian League is launched, there will be also 1st Slovakian League, in which TATRAN Presov B with our youth players (at the age of 19-20 and younger) could play. It is very important for these young players to be in a good training and match pace. At the present time our biggest problem is the fact we have to play more than 80 games per season. It means there is no space for trainings sometimes. Young players do not play in the tough games in the EHF Champions League or SEHA League because there we “play for life”, so youngsters do not get a lot of space. They do not train properly with the senior team too because there is no time to train. New junior team TATRAN Presov B should secure these youngsters a lot of time to play on the court. As for our new reinforcements before the next season 2017/2018, we are interested in 2-3 high quality players who will fulfil European parameters.”Author: Richard FechFOTO: Viktor Zamborsky ← Previous Story Thriller in Plock: Bjerringbro-Silkeborg is battling Wisla for the final spot in TOP 16 Next Story → La Rioja to keep Jota Gonzales on the bench for 11th season in a row!