The sky’s the limit for ambitious Hutecek
26 Jan. 2021
Austria might not be a household name in the world of handball, but their plans are big. After co-hosting the Men’s EHF EURO 2020, they are nurturing a generation that could eventually help them fulfil their ambitions on the big stage.
Their top star, back Nikola Bilyk, is missing the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship due to a devastating injury, forcing Austria to rely on another towering back that is exciting to watch and becoming a focal point of the team.
Lukas Hutecek is only 20 years old but has been dubbed as a cornerstone for the Austrian national team for the years to come, having already won the 2019/2020 Player of the Year award in the domestic league.
Having just finished his mandatory military stage in Austria, Hutecek is now representing Austria at Egypt 2021, his first IHF Men’s World Championship.
“My feelings are of excitement and happiness to be able to represent my team at such a high level, with so many different countries taking part and gaining valuable experience for the future,” said Hutecek in an interview with ihf.info.
The towering 1,92m left back is the second leading scorer for his team in the first six games with 24 and converting 59 percent of his shots.
But Hutecek’s strength is not only as a scorer, but also as a facilitator for his teammates. His handball mind is next to none and the 20-year old back ranks eighth in the assists standings, with 22, only five assists behind second-placed Chilean back Rodrigo Salinas.
In the standings featuring the total number of goals and assists at Egypt 2021, Hutecek ranks 11th, contributing directly to more goals than French star Kentin Mahe, the Most Valuable Player of the Men’s EHF EURO 2018, Sweden’s centre back Jim Gottfridssson, or Slovenian right back Jure Dolenec.
Yet Hutecek’s experience at the 27th Men’s IHF World Championship has been hampered by Austria’s early elimination in the preliminary round, with losses against Switzerland, France and Norway.
“Playing against France and Norway is always very difficult, they qualified for the quarter-finals and proved to be one of the best teams in the world, powerhouses in the real sense of the word. We could have done better against Switzerland, but they were better than us, so it is a steep learning curve, but we are trying to do better and better,” says Hutecek.
But it may have been a blessing in disguise, as Austria are now on their best World Championship run in their history, sweeping Chile, the Republic of Korea and Morocco in Group II of the President’s Cup.
As a result, Austria will play in the President’s Cup final against Tunisia at New Capital Sports Hall tomorrow (27 January).
“It is not exactly what we dreamed about, we would have liked to be in the main round, but of course we will try our best and win this game and a win would give us the confidence we need to get back and work harder to improve ourselves,” adds Hutecek.
In two years, Hutecek has transitioned from being named the “best newcomer” in the Austrian league, to winning the league Most Valuable Player award, while also having an Austrian title to his name.
But the ambitions are high, especially after making a name for himself both at Egypt 2021 and in the EHF European League Men at his club, Fivers, scoring 48 goals in the nine game he featured in.
“I have not really thought about the future, but, of course, I would like to win the EHF Champions League Men with the club and have great results with the Austrian side. And I think both are doable, despite being distant dreams now. We have a really good generation for the national team and we will only get better and better.”