After three and a half months of excellent handball that was showcased on the SEHA courts, the first part of the season has officially ended. While our stars are taking a well-deserved break, celebrating the holidays with their loved ones and preparing for national team duties, it's time to reflect on the 9th SEHA season Group phase.
Twelve clubs (two more than in the previous one) entered the most exciting SEHA season so far. Some of these teams were our well-known faces who have been a part of our story from the very beginning. But, besides them, two teams that competed in our League in the previous seasons, Hungarian Telekom Veszprem and Serbian Metaloplastika, came back and made this one the most exciting yet. The other reason for this being the most interesting SEHA season so far lies in the fact that we welcomed four completely new teams who brought a light of new handball tactics and incredible memories to our family.
Because of that, Spartak became the first ever Russian club to compete in our League which marked a big step in SEHA history. With joining of the Chinese rookies, Beijing Sport University, a new era of our League started. Alongside them, Ukrainian Motor Zaporozhye and North Macedonian Eurofarm Rabotnik also made their first SEHA League steps at the start of this season. Considering that, all matches played by Spartak, Motor Zaporozhye and Meshkov Brest were streamed on VKontakte, Russian social media platform, as they became our official partners. Moreover, our list of partners grew even more because of the agreement with Sportradar, the global provider of sports data intelligence.
But, out League's new era did not just starred some new clubs and partners, but the completely new playing system. That way, 12 clubs started this season's journey divided into two groups. In the Group phase, we had a chance to witness total of 60 matches which decided which teams proceeded directly into the Quarter-finals, and which teams will seek their chance in the Play off phase.
After total of 10 matches each of these clubs played, the deal is pretty clear. Top spots in Group A are reserved for five-time SEHA champions, Vardar, and Ukrainian newcomers, Motor Zaporozhye who showed huge talent and surprised everyone on the court. Both of them finished Group phase with 8 victories each and the same number of points. On the other side, Telekom Veszprem dominantly cruised through the Group phase securing first place in Group B with 8 victories as well. But, the answer to the question who takes the second position and proceeds to the Quarter-finals was answered in the last Group B clash. In the end, the Quarter-finals ticket went to PPD Zagreb who ended this phase with 7 victories total. These four teams will find out their Quarter-finals opponents after the Play off phase that will take place in February.
And the Play off pairings are:
Spartak - Tatran Presov
Metaloplastika - Vojvodina
Nexe - Eurofarm Rabotnik
Beijing Sport University - Meshkov Brest
This first part of the season was also memorable because of three new records. Unstoppable Meshkov Brest gem, Mikita Vailupau scored 20 goals against Eurofarm Rabotnik which was a new record for the most goals one player scored in a single fixture. The stars of other record were Vardar and Motor Zaporozhye who combined for 81 goals and broke the 6 years old record that was previous held by the match between Tatran Presov and Nexe. Sixteen years old right winger from Metaloplastika, Matea Dodic, stepped on the SEHA court as the youngest player this season which marked the third record of the Group phase.
With all these brilliant on-court facts, the first part of the season brought us many off-court memorable moments. Our stars showed their soft side with praise-worthy charity actions that made this holiday season and SEHA December a bit more special for those in need. Tatran Presov and Vojvodina came together in another book donation for local library “Stefan Homola“ in Backi Petrovac, Slovakian village near Novi Sad. Telekom Veszprem continued with such activities and organised Christmas charity action in which they helped the Children Department of Csolnoky Ferenc Hospital of Veszprem and the Kozmutza Flora Organization. As the cherry on top of this festive time of giving, PPD Zagreb joined forces with White Lions fan club, National Sindicate of Police and Red Nose foundation and held a donating action for the Special Hospital for Chronic Diseases for Childrenin Gornja Bistra.
Seeing how eventful and magical this first part of the season was, we can't wait to see what the upcoming phases have in store. SEHA - Gazprom League matches will continue in February, while Quarter-finals will be played in March 2020. Until then, we wish our stars to rest and charge their batteries for new adventures that are to come!