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The key is to ignore the score board

FEATURE: Belarus playmaker Barys Pukhouski became the first player at the EHF EURO 2016 to score in double digits as his team defeated Iceland in a record high-scoring game

Photo: Karol Bartnik

Not only did he orchestrate his team’s astonishing, record-breaking victory against Iceland, but he also became the first player at the EHF EURO 2016 to score in double digits.

With no fewer than 11 goals, Belarus playmaker Barys Pukhouski had a lion's share in the new all-time EHF EURO record for most goals (77) in one game, contributing on average every seventh goal of the match.

“When I saw the chance from the Icelandic defence I always took it. I was a bit lucky to score so many times, but even if I scored just once and we would still win I would be happy. It does not really matter,” he told

The start of the match gave no indication that it could turn into a great evening in Spodek Arena for Pukhouski and his team.

“Every win on this level is enormously important. But I had to fight with myself as I was struggling at the beginning.

“There was big pressure on us as we had to win if we wanted to keep a realistic chance for the main round. On top of that as a centre back I always feel responsibility for how we play and it was not easy. But my teammates and friends in our squad really helped me,” said the 29-year-old, who plays for perennial Ukrainian champions Motor Zaporozhye.

“Even after our mistakes in the game we stayed focused on the victory and it worked. We were constantly improving through the game and the second half was much better than the first.”

“I did not even lift my sight to the score board”

Early in the second half Iceland’s 18:17 lead from the first half was growing, and nothing hinted that Belarus could turn the tide as they trailed by four goals.

Coach Iouri Chevtsov admitted at the press conference that he never thinks about how to eliminate a goal deficit during a match; he just focuses on what needs to be done next.

Pukhouski has his own way of coping with critical situations.

“It happened to us many a time in the past that we were leading by two or three goals and started to think about it too much. Consequently, we committed many easy mistakes and lost in the end. This time I tried to ignore the difference in the second half when we were behind. I did not even lift my sight to the score board at all.”

It is very rare that a player other than Siarhei Rutenka leads Belarus on the score sheet.

“He is a big star. I had an advantage from the fact that Siarhei took two defending players on him and I could score,” Pukhouski pointed out.

Belarus’ young stars

But it was not only the team's biggest star who contributed to Belarus’ success. Chevtsov has not been afraid of giving substantial playing time to several youngsters in his team at this tournament.

21-year-old Viachaslau Saldatsenka added a few key saves in the second half after he had a stellar debut against Croatia in their Group B opener.

Left wing Andrei Yurynok, who is two years younger than Saldatsenka, is one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament and although another teenager, Uladzislau Kulesh, was limited to just 87 seconds on the court, he still scored the winning goal of the match against Iceland.

“The whole team thought of just one thing – how to win, and these young players in our team are a great contribution.

“It was, for example, amazing to watch Uladzislau. He was sitting on the bench the whole game but in the thrilling end when we were one goal in the lead he was demanding 'Give me a chance, I will score, I will score!' And he scored the winning goal. What can I say? Amazing!” Pukhouski concluded.

written by Vlado Brindzak / cg