Posted: 28.05.2024 10:30:00

Riding a ball

Neman Grodno is the winner of the Belarusian Football Cup

Final matches rarely happen to be spectacular. The nature of the decisive battle leaves its heavy imprint on both teams — the cost of error is too high and caution in actions always prevails over ease of play. Instead of the dashing music of attack, a gloomy alarm bell of defence is usually heard. The final match of the National Cup was no exception.

FC Neman Grodno        BELTA

The duel between Isloch and Neman did not surprise with bright colours, although this match cannot be called a boring one, either. This is not only thanks to the players but also to the fans — impressive support groups arrived in Zhodino from Minsk and Grodno, which turned the usually dull atmosphere of Belarusian football into something like a festive event.
The stronger team won. There is no doubt about this, even among the most devoted and desperate fans of Isloch. Neman looked more solid, more active, more accurate and more confident in all components of the game and throughout the entire match. Only once in their history had Grodno football players raised the national cup over their heads. The memorable event happened as many as 31 years ago, at the dawn of sovereign football, when Vedrich from Rechitsa was defeated in the final. Since then — not a chance. There were exits to the decisive stage, but tough luck followed the team each time. The same situation was in the Belarusian championship, where they managed to hit the podium but never to become champions. This season, therefore, may become a breakthrough for Neman. Grodno residents have already secured the cup for their club museum. Now, presumably, they will aim, with good reason and in all seriousness, at winning the gold awards of the championship. After all, who would dare to say today that Neman stands no chance of winning this race?


Yegor Zubovich and Pavel Savitskiy are the two main Grodno jokers. It was their goals that brought victory over Isloch. Ilya Kukharchik, a midfielder who has joined the ranks of Neman only this season, also became a direct participant in the episodes that led to the goals. This nimble footballer can be easily called the finals MVP, and this is perhaps the main surprise. The 27-year-old trainee of the Baranovichi football school had neither a big name nor significant achievements till that moment, having spent most of his career playing for his hometown team and for Belshina from Bobruisk permanently balancing between the highest and the first leagues. This time, however, not only did he manage to keep his wits about him in a serious battle, but he also did great when fighting for the ball, playing in defence and attack, and acting reasonably, tenaciously and quickly. In a word, he nailed it! 
What about Isloch? Isloch really wanted to win but could not. No matter what you say, two dangerous moments during the whole match are clearly not enough to seriously count on winning the National Cup.


Igor Kovalevich, head coach of Neman,
“The real men played for Neman in this match. The flow of the Neman River would have stopped sooner than we would have lost to Isloch. For two years in a row, we were very close to winning the Cup. We waited patiently — and this moment has come. Despite all the machinations created by the federation, we have rightfully won the trophy.”

By Sergei Kanashits