HC Minsk’s Vlad Belousov is well aware of the huge challenge facing his side in their second EHL season but says his side will “never give up” when they take on SV Kampong in Barcelona.
The Belarussian champions are back for their second EHL campaign following last year’s appearance at the Pau Negre when they took on Royal Leopold and WKS Grunwald Poznan.
“Since childhood, I had a dream to get into EHL and play at such a high level,” the 23-year-old Belousov said after of the KO16.
“Now I am here again and am very happy about it. Last year was a good experience against last year’s Belgian champions, Leopold.
“For a long time the score was 0-0 but, at the end of the third period they managed to score and break our defence; the fourth period turned out to be a complete failure. We made an analysis of that match and will try to prevent this from happening again.
“As for the match with WKS Grunwald Poznan, we did not take enough of our chances.”
In preparation for the KO16 this year, Minsk have enjoyed a productive autumn, working in plenty of double sessions and a number of tournaments.
Several members of the side were also part of the Belarus team who played in the FIH Series Finals in Malaysia and then the EuroHockey Challenge II in Cambrai in late July.
In August, the club finished second in the Commonwealth Cup and then won the Prometheus Cup. On September 10, they added the Belarus Super Cup 2-1 against SC Stroitel Brest whom they meet again in their national championship next weekend before jetting out to Spain.
There, they will meet the 2016 champions who are back at the scene of their EHL triumph. Minsk and Belousov have played plenty of Dutch opposition in the past 12 months to give them a taste of the challenge to come.
“In April, we had a training camp in Holland against Den Bosch, losing to him 1-3. There were also test games with other teams of the second league of Holland and Belgium.
“Before that, in February, we played the European indoor cup against Amsterdam, winning 7-6 in the last seconds. Playing against the Dutch teams is always a great experience; we need more test matches like that as our domestic championship is weak. In this regard, our players want to try their hand against other European clubs
“Undoubtedly SV Kampong is one of the strongest rivals and, in the past, an EHL champion who play a very dynamic game. It will be very hard for us.
“But we are not going to give up. Now we are working on physical fitness and practicing the tactics with which we will play against Kampong.”