Alexander Khatskevich: ‘We’ve played aggressive football and it yielded result’
Belarusian footballers win European Championship qualification match, defeating Slovakia in an away match — 1:0
On the eve of their match against Slovakia, the Belarusian team faced not a simple situation: seven players were dismissed due to traumas. Among them were Sergey Kornilenko, Alexander Hleb, Timofey Kalachev, Yegor Filipenko, Igor Shitov, Ivan Maevsky and Roman Begunov. Head coach Alexander Khatskevich had to propose an experimental line-up which, eventually, was a success. Actually, the game played no tournament significance for Belarusians: our players already lost their chances to join the EURO-2016 finals. In turn, it was a decisive match for Slovakians: whether they’ll travel to France or will have to settle this issue during the last stage.
The hosts immediately attacked, hoping to press Belarusians with their activity. However, their strategy did not yield fruit: our footballers confidently repulsed attacks, also demonstrating sharp counter-attacks. By the middle of the first half, the Slovaks strongly pressed their opponents, even having several chances to break Andrey Gorbunov’s goals. Once, the ball was steadily approaching the net but Stanislav Dragun managed to turn it away from the goal line. Some time later, Stanislav scored: after Renan Bressan’s corner kick, he headed the goal. After goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik’s failure, Slovaks got truly embarrassed. Until the break, they could hardly recover their strength.
After the break, the hosts attempted to recapture the initiative but, after five yellow cards and Maxim Borodachev’s removal in the 65th minute, Belarusians managed to demonstrate worthy football and even attack. Slovaks only succeeded to hit the bar and then Vladimir Weiss produced a penalty kick which was efficiently saved by Gorbunov.
After the match, Mr. Khatskevich noted that his trainees played aggressively — especially in the first half. Their style yielded a positive result. After the break, it got more difficult for Belarusians to play. 25 minutes before the final whistle, our team ‘lost’ one player but still managed to show their killer instinct.
Slovakia’s coach — Jan Kozak — admitted that Belarusians played well, much surprising their rivals. According to him, Slovak footballers lacked responsibility in their performance. As a result, they lost — disappointing their fans who hoped the hosts would join the European Championship’s finals after the match.
By Yegor Glebov