Weakness on the pitch
Belarusian footballers lose to Ukrainians — 1:3
The head coach of the Belarusian national football team, Alexander Khatskevich, announced at the pre-match press conference that the squad maintained hopes of qualifying. However, fans’ hopes have been dashed with the team’s failure to claim third place in the group; the team would have needed a win, rather than their 1:3 defeat.
It was Belarus’ defence which let the side down, as central defenders Denis Polyakov and Sergey Politevich both suffered injury and Malaga reserve player Yegor Filipenko was clearly not on top form. Meanwhile, Maxim Bordachev was disqualified for having too many yellow cards and Maxim Volodko failed to play his best.
The outcome was predictable in the first half, with coach Alexander Khatskevich no doubt shaking his head in bewilderment as the defence spun like a revolving door and our halfbacks failed to take possession of the ball. Attacker Sergey Kornilenko spent much of his time idle. Only goalkeeper Andrey Gorbunov did brilliantly, with a fantastic save after Konoplyanka’s direct pass; his efforts will be long remembered.
In the second half, our players seemed to revive a little, taking the initiative, yet failed to pull any rabbits out of the hat. Their only joy was a penalty goal (the first goal scored by Belarus against Ukraine in an official match).
After the match, Mr. Khatskevich said that the team had failed to defend adequately in the first half, with himself taking part of the blame for placing Sivakov and Mayevsky in central defence. He moved them after halftime but it was too late; the match was lost in the first half.
His Ukrainian colleague, coach Mikhail Fomenko, was delighted by the result, saying that it was great to see his squad score three times in the first half. In the second, they relaxed slightly but kept their vital lead.
By Igor Grishin