By Kirill Karin
On the way to the finals of the tournament, held in St. Petersburg, Vladimir Zhuravel’s trainees played three matches in the preliminary round, defeating Turkmenistan’s Balkan 2:1 and Estonian Flora 6:0. They drew against St. Petersburg’s Zenit’s junior team 1:1 and, in the quarter-finals, beat Dynamo Kiev’s reserve squad 2:1. In the semi-finals, Shakhtyor saw the same score against Latvian Skonto.
The finals saw the Belarusian team facing Inter, from Azerbaijan. Even extra-time failed to settle a winner, although the Baku players (who were mostly experienced legionaries) controlled the field more actively. As a result, there was a shoot off from 11m, with Inter claiming a 6:5 lead; the Belarusian team lost by just one point. Inter kept its nerve to bring home the 19th Commonwealth Cup.
Shakhtyor’s silver, awarded by FIFA President Joseph Blatter, is no mean feat and has been an unexpected bonus for the squad and their coach. In 2007, Shakhtyor took part in the Commonwealth Cup but failed to reach the second stage.
Shakhtyor’s Alexander Alumona, who claimed five goals, was named the second best striker of the tournament in St. Petersburg.