LATVIA – BELARUS
january 8th, 2017; Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex, 700 spectators
Best players: Grīnbergs, Volkau
Aleksandrs Basovs, Head coach of team Latvia:
– First of all, I would like to thank the organizing committee for the invitation. As for the match, the first minutes showed that our players did not cope with nervousness and made odd mistakes that are not usual for them. One of these mistakes led to goal conceding, but the boys pulled themselves together and performed great until the end of the first half, scoring two goals. After that we tried to keep the score, but our opponent played more offensively and took their chance to score. So, this draw is very bitter for me, it tastes like a loss.
– How were you preparing for the tournament?
– We all met on the 29th of December. As I am a coach of the U-19 team, I am new to this squad, whereas players have known each other long. It is not difficult to cooperate with them, and I hope to know them better after the tournament.
– Do you have any contacts with the head coach of the National Team of Latvia?
– Yes, we often communicate with Marian Pahars. Our training strategy is built in the interests of the A team.
– The team showed very aggressive play. Is it your peculiarity?
– Not really. We also tried to play in attacking style during last season, and we keep on stipulating that players should go on the field and struggle in each part of the match. Character is one of the main qualities to be shown in order to join the National Team of Latvia.
– Is the team you brought to Saint Petersburg optimal?
– There are several players who did not make it to the tournament. The English club West Ham United apologized for not letting our main goalkeeper Rihard Makrevitz, who plays in their youth team, come here. Another player – Oscar Rubines – is taking trials in CSKA. Other players are here.
– The draw put you in the same group as Belarus, Russia and India. Are you satisfied with that?
– The draw is the draw. It is always interesting to play with strong opponents, because we gain a lot of experience from that. As for India, I must say that they are like a dark horse for us. We never faced each other before.
Raman Kirenkin, Head coach of team Belarus:
– Good evening! I also want to thank the organizing committee and the city of Saint Petersburg for the tournament, wonderful in every way. Our main goal was to prepare the guys from the psychological point of view, helping them withstand the new field, new atmosphere, new rivals. Not everything went well. In the beginning, specifically in the first half, wingers performed poorly. Then we woke up, tried to play more offensively, creating scoring chances. So, a draw seems to be a logical outcome of the match. Our opponent’s good play in set pieces made us nervous.
– Are you acquainted with National Team of Latvia?
– Yes, we met. Belarus is a host country for the Development Cup, where we won against Latvia last year, and today, we played a draw. We had few days to prepare for the Granatkin Memorial: we held a 5-day training session before the New Year.
– We are used to see Belarusian coaches very strict. You, on the contrary, look like a very calm person…
– Actually, I always try to make players hear me, but if they do not seem to listen, I can turn into a tough mode. And it’s better not to make me angry.
– Lots of talented players used to play and are playing for the National Team of Belarus, for example, Pavel Savitskii, an unconditional leader and an eminent player. Are there any stars in the current lineup?
– For better or for worse, we do not have any significant stars now. There are both advantages and disadvantages of this fact. For instance, there is no clear leader, who could lead the team in its hour of need. But I am also glad to work with the boys I know now. They do not depend on anyone. They are a very close team, brought up by hard work and pains.
– Did your substitutions affect the match result?
– Yes, we tried to influence the match progress by substitutions and switched to a play with three defenders. Guess it was worth trying, as some players were a bit exhausted, and substitutions revived the play, especially in the wings.