Radivojevic and Vyakhireva swoop September awards

September lifted the curtain on the widely anticipated start of the new season. As with any beginning, it is new and somewhat unknown, making it difficult to assume anything before the season progresses and that is why we love it.

The initial three rounds of the VELUX EHF Champions League and two rounds of the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 provided exactly that kind of excitement to the fans and the players alike. Following a string of impressive results and performances to match, the EHF Player of the Month awards went to Anna Vyakhireva (Russia) and Bogdan Radivojević (MOL-Pick Szeged).

However, the two laureates have more in common than their in-form start to the season, which brought them the accolade. Interestingly, both Vyakhireva and Radivojević use their left as the dominant shooting hand and occupy the right side of the court.

Vyakhireva: “Nothing yet to celebrate”

Anna Vyakhireva became the first four-time EHF Player of the Month. She claimed the award in June, October and December 2018, and now in September 2019.

However, the Rostov-Don and Russia right back stays humble: “I do not have any particular emotions. September is just a warm-up before the season, so there is nothing yet to celebrate. I prefer to look forward and keep on working.”

Russia national team enjoyed a successful start to EHF EURO 2020 qualification, beating Slovakia 34:15 and Switzerland 35:26. Vyakhireva became her team’s best scorer in both matches, netting eight and seven times, respectively.

“I don’t think I am in the best shape. I have things to work on, and it is too early to show your best game in September. But I hope that I will improve with every week, as the schedule now will be very tight,” the 24-year-old says.

On Saturday, Rostov are scheduled to play their first game in the new DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League season against Lublin and Vyakhireva hopes for a successful campaign.

“Our goals are clear, it is already time to win the trophy. But now I am not thinking about it, first we have to start the tournament. I am looking forward to it, as I have been missing the atmosphere of the Champions League,” she says.

Radivojevic: “Honoured, but there is still a lot to learn”

Bogdan Radivojevic was ecstatic following his first EHF Player of the Month award. With 21 goals in three matches, the Serbian right wing is also a current joint top-scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League, along with fellow EHF Player of the Month nominee, Aalborg’s Sebastian Barthold.

“Player of the month, wow. Well, it is quite an honour, I am very proud. I feel there is so much more for me to learn in years to come, but it motivates me to become even better in the future,” says Radivojević, before revealing the reasons behind his excellent form.

“It feels great being in Szeged. The team, as well as the city suite me well. Especially, being only two hours away from home (Belgrade).

“There is a great companionship here. Mario Sostaric helps me a lot to adjust to life here.

“I am especially happy that the coach has confidence in me. I have waited six years for a chance like this, so when I finally got the opportunity, I took it. I am working hard to repay the faith, and feel I am growing as a player each day,” says the 26-year old.

With three points from as many matches, a big challenge lies ahead for MOL-Pick Szeged in Group A. The Hungarian side have assembled an experienced group of players, looking to make a step further in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season. Having come as far as the quarter-finals, the VELUX EHF FINAL4 is their goal.

“I believe this team can accomplish a lot. We will fight for the domestic trophies, and I hope we can make a step forward in the Champions League this season, as well. This team has the quality to win the competition,” concludes Radivojevic.

EHF Players of September nominees

Women:

1. Anna Vyakhireva (RUS) – Rostov-Don
2. Katrin Klujber (HUN) – FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria
3. Ana Gros (SLO) – Brest Bretagne Handball
4. Jovanka Radicevic (MNE) – Buducnost
5. Jelena Lavko (SRB) – Erd

Men:

1. Bogdan Radivojevic (SRB) – MOL-Pick Szeged
2. Sebastian Barthold (NOR) – Aalborg
3. Nikola Bilyk (AUT) – THW Kiel
4. Marin Sego (CRO) – Montpellier
5. Melvyn Richardson (FRA) – Montpellier

TEXT: Nemanja Savic, Sergey Nikolaev / cor