By Yuri Karpenko
This has been an action packed year for BATE. Earlier, they won the Belarusian Cup, despite having failed to make much of an impression beforehand. They were knocked out of the Champions League but performed well in the Europa League. Approval for the new stadium in Borisov was good news and, now, they are celebrating their seventh Belarusian championship title.
Of course, not all is rosy, since Victor Goncharenko’s squad battled hard for their success. This year, their schedule is more hectic than usual. Previously, battling on several fronts simultaneously did not hamper the team but, this season, it engaged in more matches. Those of the European Cup have drained their energy, so it was a challenge to participate in the national championship. Meanwhile, July and August proved tough for the squad, as they were heartily criticised following their defeat in Copenhagen, Denmark, which deprived them of their dream of entering the Champions League.
However, their latest success has curbed speculation that BATE has stagnated. Returning to the European arenas and starring at home, BATE has proven that they are unequalled in Belarus. BATE has taken Belarus’ championship title for the fifth time in a row and for the seventh time in total. Former leader Dynamo Minsk had no chance against BATE, with their ambitious plans to top the Belarusian football rankings crushed by an obviously more formidable rival.
BATE is Belarusian champion for the third time with famed coach Victor Goncharenko. At the end of this season, he was in the spotlight, as many anticipated his retirement. He denied the rumour but admitted that some players may leave BATE, allowing the line-up to be strengthened. This is routine, with players leaving and substitutes found on a regular basis. Anatoly Kapsky, Chairman of BATE Board, notes, however, that the team doesn’t expect a major reshuffle.
Meanwhile, the national football team of Belarus ended their exclusively successful year with an away match against the little known Omani team. Our squad travelled to Muscat where they left the host team without a chance, defeating them 4:0. Krasnodar defenseman Alexander Martynovich scored twice, while BATE forward Vitaly Rodionov and halfback for Chinese Shenzhen Vyacheslav Hleb claimed one goal each. The Belarusian squad was missing some its leading players: Alexander Hleb, Vitaly Kutuzov, Yuri Zhevnov, Sergey Kornilenko and Anton Putilo. Nevertheless, the win was an easy one, as the opponent did not pose a serious threat.
The national team of Belarus, coached by Bernd Stange, has now climbed to 40th position in the FIFA rankings (up from 42nd in October). Spain leads, followed by Holland, with Brazil closing the top three — their positions unchanged. FIFA will next update its rankings on December 15th.