Finding one’s own game

Belarusian national football team finishes season with two games: official and friendly
By Yegor Glebov

Belarusian footballers lost 2:1 to Spain in the qualifying match for the 2014 World Football Championship. In the first half of the Group I match, Georgy Kondratiev’s team defended their goal well, with the Spanish leading the initiative, but only managing a few shots on target. A few minutes before half time, Stanislav Dragun attempted to score, but the ball crossed low and hit Gerard Pique’s hand. However, the Dutch referee failed to award a penalty.

In the second half, the Spanish hosts had the advantage, and their persistency was awarded with a goal by Xavi in the 61st minute. 17 minutes later, Alvaro Negredo, who had come on as substitute for Michu, scored their second. Towards the end, Spanish players took their foot off the gas a little and the Belarusians used the opportunity, with Sergey Kornilenko, who had replaced Anton Putilo, hitting the back of Victor Valdes’ net a minute before the final whistle.

However, it’s often the last moments that are remembered. The final match of the season, a friendly against Japan, saw Georgy Kondratiev’s squad defeating their opponents, qualifiers for the World Cup Finals in Brazil next year, 1:0 in Zhodino.

During the first half, the hosts yielded the initiative, focusing primarily on counterattacks. The Japanese owned the ball most of the time and created several opportunities at Sergey Veremko’s goal, yet failed to convert their attempts. Closer to half-time, the Belarusian footballers began to act more boldly and score during an attack from the right wing. After a quality pass from Timofey Kalachev, Yan Tigorev scored with a long, powerful kick on goal. After the break, the Belarusians played matched their guests and brought the game to a victorious end.

“Overall, we played a good game,” summed up Vitaly Rodionov after the match. “This inspires optimism.”
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