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The son needs the points more than the father does

FEATURE: Talant Dujshebaev and his son Alex will face on court when Spain play Hungary in Main Round Group 2 in Wroclaw on Tuesday


Photo: Sascha Klahn

The history of handball is full of examples of fathers coaching their sons, but games in which father and son have faced each other on opposite ends of the court are reasonably rare.

However, for Hungary head coach Talant Dujshebaev and his son Alex, who plays for Spain, this has become quite a common occurrence.

"For us it is quite normal already; it is not the first time," says Talant Dujshebaev ahead of the match between Spain and Hungary on Tuesday in the main round in Wroclaw.

Back in the days, Talant Dujshebaev organised extra training sessions for his sons Alex and Daniel, the latter now a player for the Spanish and the FC Barcelona junior team.

"He was a good coach, but I had to work really hard," says 23-year-old Alex about his father who was twice awarded World Handball Player of the Year and also won the Olympic Games in 1992 with EUN (Unified team of former Soviet Union states) and the World Championship in 1993 with Spain.

When Alex had grown up, he joined Logrono and became the youngest top scorer of the Spanish league.

In 2013 he led the Spanish junior national team to World Championship silver and was awarded a place in the tournament’s All-star team.

After this the major question was: Which European top club would first sign a contract with Alex Dujshebaev?

In the end it was Vardar Skopje that made the race – potentially the slight advantage being that club owner Sergej Samsonenko is a good friend of the Dujshebaev family and that coach Raul Gonzales was Talant’s assistant when they both coached Ciudad Real.

After he had been the coach of Atletico Madrid until 2013, Talant Dujshebaev was hired by Polish champions Vive Tauron Kielce, and many experts expected that Alex would join his father – but he stayed in Skopje.

In late 2014 – and after Hungary had failed to qualify for the World Championship 2015 – Talant Dujshebaev was also appointed new coach of Hungary, and for the first time father and son met on national team level when Hungary played Spain in a test match in January 2015.

Three months later the ‘big clash’ between Alex’s Vardar and Talant’s Kielce followed in the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final.

In the end it was the father who led Kielce to two wins and the subsequently to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.

In autumn 2015 Talant and Alex met again in the EHF Champions League with their respective clubs, this time they took one win each.

And on Tuesday? "I simply do my job, this is a normal match for me even though I have also worn the jersey of the Spanish national team," says Talant Dujshebaev.

Hungary are very, very likely to miss their goal to book a ticket for the Olympic Qualification Tournaments, on the other side Spain need the points to remain in the race for the semi-finals after they lost to Denmark on Sunday.

"It will not be easy to beat my dad, but we have to. We need those points," says Alex Dujshebaev.

Reuniting the the family is a bit tricky in Wroclaw because father and son are accommodated in different team hotels. "But of course after the match we will have the time to talk," says Alex.

written by Bjorn Pazen / ts