BATE one step from Champions League
BATE Borisov FC has made an important step towards the Champions League Group Stage, with Victor Goncharenko’s trainees defeating Israeli Hapoel in the first match of the qualification play-offs at Minsk’s Dynamo Stadium
The match against the club from Kiryat Shmona didn’t promise to be easy but, after achieving a 2:0 score, BATE has created a promising ‘safety margin’ before the return match.
Interestingly, the Borisov team has two leading players: Renan Bressan and Alexander Hleb. Both have played in the main line-up, focusing on attack. Hleb tends to take the role of a strategic player while Bressan does his best to provoke defensive play from his opponent. Although they saw mixed success, the match was certainly in their favour from the first minutes.
It was only a matter of time before a goal was scored, occurring in the 29th minute, when Mozolevsky skilfully delivered a pass with pinpoint accuracy to Vitaly Rodionov. The latter turned sharply and shot low into the bottom corner of the net. Rodionov scored the next goal just after the 70th minute, when Dusan Matovic was sent off after attempting to stop Rodionov. With a score of 2:0, BATE’s chances of reaching the next stage of the Champions League have been raised considerably.
Despite their success, BATE’s players are remaining rather reserved, knowing that they must face the second part of the battle; it’s too early to celebrate.
The major hero of the match, Vitaly Rodionov, notes, “Certainly, the ‘cushion’ we’ve made is large but it isn’t enough to allow us to rest on our laurels. The Israeli players know how to work the ball and brilliantly avoided our attacks. I think everyone realises that the Israeli team is a tough nut to crack so our return meeting will be difficult, especially taking into account the Israeli climate.”
One of the country’s top footballers, Alexander Hleb, agrees, saying, “One more goal would have been preferable, making it a difficult score to beat in a return match. The temperature is very hot over there.” The Israelis will also have the advantage of playing at home. The squad’s head coach, Gili Landau, muses, “The defeat hasn’t affected our self-confidence as we have a good club which is developing from game to game. Yes, we’ve lost this time but we believe that we’ll do better at home, winning with a result which will satisfy us.”
Fortunately, his Borisov colleague, Victor Goncharenko, is well aware of this and finished the victorious press conference with the firm statement that ‘there won’t be an overconfident mood in Israel’. “We’ll be fighting to the last minute!” he asserts.