SLOVENIA – SAINT PETERSBURG
January 13th, 2017; Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex, 700 spectators
Best players: Bijol, Yastimov
Post match comments
Igor Benedejčič, Head coach of team Slovenia:
– I can admit that team Saint Petersburg played better than us from the technical point of view today. But we played well, the luck was on our side and we’re very satisfied with the result.
– Your defender Jaka Bijol scored twice, but he also received a red card. Will you compliment him or criticize?
– Of course, I will compliment him, as in the moment he got the red card there was another player who took part in that incident and who should have shared the guilt.
– Will it be a big loss that he’s missing the quarter-final?
– Of course, it will. This is one of our best central defenders who plays well with a head.
Vladimir Kazachionok: not just plays with a head, but also thinks well with his head.
– It was obvious that team Slovenia was playing more defensively after the half-time. Was that strategy proposed by you or were it your players who decided to count on defense?
– As I already said, our opponents are very technical, so it was more logical to defend in the second half. It seems to be more important, because we came here without a couple of good players.
– Is it possible to say that your team keeps playing better from match to match? Were you saving your energy in the beginning of the tournament?
– Despite our first matches ended in a draw, I was satisfied with overall team performance. Today we were very confident in our future, so that helped us.
– What do you think about team Kazakhstan that you’re facing in the quarter-final?
– We don’t know them yet, but we earned self-confidence today and I hope that we’ll be ready.
Vladimir Kazachionok, Head coach of team St. Petersburg:
– That was a good match, we tried to hold the initiative, we possessed the ball mostly, created a lot of dangerous moments, but, unfortunately, we did not score. We lost 0:3, I think that there is no need in self-criticism, because there is play quality apart from the result, and I am satisfied with overall game level.
– The first two Slovenian goals were scored after the set pieces and were much the same. Moreover, they were scored by the same player. Are these mistakes made systematically by your defense?
– Of course, two goals scored by the same player speak for themselves. Taking into account players we have, we expected problems with aerial duels. A difference in aerial prowess was perfectly shown today. Our opponent proactively played against us, but our players were just waiting for the ball to come. I guess that’s a typical drawback of the Russian youth football. The height is less important compared to position choice. I think our rival knew us and put a bet on this.
– Your team loses to Slovenia for the third year in a row. Do you find these losses similar?
– Yes, I do. I already mentioned this last year and I can repeat now: the Slovenian attitude to the game is outstanding and much better than ours. I had a lot of questions to my guys regarding this point. We are, of course, a team from a very friendly city so we let our dear guests do everything they want: whatever they rumble or fumble (smiling). But there is a limit to this hospitality, we should get angrier and show what we are capable of.
– You previously talked about your forwards and said that the quantity of moments they create should turn into the quality. According to match statistics, you overplayed your opponent, but that very conversion did not rise. Are there any reasons for that?
– Did we really overplay our rival? We barely hit the goals. Playing in the box does not mean attacking the goalposts. The forwards…I don’t have much to say about them.
– Goalkeeper Mihail Ponomarenko who did not play before was included into the starting line-up. Can you comment on his performance?
– He missed three balls, which is unacceptable, but I won’t let all the blame lie on his shoulders.
– Maxim Petrov, who was sent off in the last match, was replaced by a defensive midfielder today. Did that make any additional problems to the team?
– Changes are normal, so we can’t be excused for that. Yes, Anton Sinyak did not show his best today, and I have one claim to him: it is not right when a person keeps on repeating the same mistakes. But Anton kept on doing that. However, I think that we should play the match again since it is Friday, the 13th (smiling).
– What can you say about your quarter-final rival team Slovakia?
– We are happy to play with everyone on this tournament, because it’s a great experience for young players and a great opportunity for them to practice, even by watching videos of their future opponent’s play. As for the chances, they are even for both teams. You can see that it is very difficult to predict anything, as everything depends on luck too: Azerbaijan lost today, although they were expected to win.