Debutants face defending champions


For the first time, Eurofarm Pelister qualified for the SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4, and right at their premier, they have to face the defending champions.

The roles seem to be clearly set: on the one hand Eurofarm Pelister, the debutant from North Macedonia, on the other hand, the four times SEHA - Gazprom League winners Telekom Veszprem from Hungary. In every season they were or are part of the competition, Veszprem made it to the final - and lost only once, 2017 in Brest against the Vardar, this was Veszprem’s only defeat in ten SEHA Final 4 matches so far.

Semi-final 2:
2 September, 20:30 CEST:

Telekom Veszprem (HUN) vs Eurofarm Pelister (MKD)

Last season, Eurofarm Pelister were eliminated by Meshkov Brest in the quarter-finals of the SEHA - Gazprom League, this year the Bitola based team were the lucky winners in the re-match: After a fully equal regular playing time (24:24 after a thrilling 60 minutes), Eurofarm Pelister won the penalty shootout 27:26 against the nine times SEHA Final 4 participants to clinch their first ever berth for the final tournament in Zadar (2 - 4 September).

On the other hand, their semi-final opponent took the clearest of all quarter-final victories, beating Tatran Presov 35:25. Since their first ever participation, Veszprem never missed any SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4, and even never lost any semi-final. It is Veszprem’s sixth participation, four times including 2020 and 2021, they won the trophy, so the playing hall in Zadar (host in the two previous years) is definitely a good omen for the team of head coach Momir Ilic.

After Ilic took over from David Davis, Veszprem made a huge step ahead, despite again losing the Hungarian league finals against Pick Szeged in aggregate. Their biggest success of the season 2021/22 besides winning the SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 2021 was the ticket to the EHF Champions League FINAL4 in Cologne, when they lost the semi-final against Lomza Vive Kielce and the bronze final against THW Kiel to finish fourth.

Telekom Veszprem and Eurofarm Pelister only faced twice in the SEHA - Gazprom League, in the 2019/20 group matches - and both won their respective home matches: Eurofarm Pelister by 26:24, Telekom Veszprem by 35:24.

Since the start of this season, Dane Lars Walther is the new coach of Eurofarm Pelister, succeeding former Croatian national team coach Zeljko Babic. Since 2001, Walther had coached 14 different clubs, including EHF Champions League participants such as Wisla Plock, Kadetten Schaffhausen, and FC Porto. Until June 2022, he was a coach at Azoty Pulawy in Poland. He has a huge transition ahead, as some top stars such as Stipe Mandalinic left the club, and new arrivals like French Rudy Seri or Tunisian Oussama Hosni need to get integrated. Eurofarm Pelister plays their third straight season in the SEHA - Gazprom League.

Veszprem each has five new arrivals and departures. Among those, who left are Macedonian Dejan Manaskov (Vardar 1961) and Spanish right back Jorge Maqueda (back to Nantes). But mainly on the wing positions, Veszprem managed to sign world-class: Icelander and former German Bundesliga top scorer Bjarki Mar Elisson from TBV Lemgo (GER) and former SEHA - Gazprom League top scorer Mikita Vailupau from Meshkov Brest. Besides, Egyptian Olympic Games semi-finalist Yehia El-Deraa will join his country-fellow Omar Yahia.

Photo credit: kolektiffimages