"Red"? "Yellow"? "Green"!!!
Alexei Eremenko senior, ex-midfielder of Rostov SKA and Rostselmash, and Moscow Spartak, Torpedo and Dynamo – the head of the famous football family. Mikhail Markhel, one of the best Russian Championship-1993 strikers (14 goals for Spartak, Vladikavkaz). Viktorio Pavlov, ex-player of the both Bulgarian top clubs: Sofia CSKA and Levski. Kairat Aubakirov, ex-forward of Kairat, Almaty, sharing the same name as his former club. Igor Sukhovei, midfielder of St. Petersburg 1990s team Smena-Saturn. Algirdas Surgautas from Lithuania and Vyacheslav Dusmanov, ex-goalkeeper of Dynamo Moscow, who has been long working in Latvia – both used to be well-known goalkeepers...
Starting list of the traditional "coaches' tournament" at Valentin Granatkin Memorial in Peterburgsky SCC turned out to be rather impressive. The tournament Organizing Committee has "mixed" the lineups of the four teams using a complex scheme and divided the coaches of the 14 tournament participants into the "greens", the "yellows", and the "blues". For example, the "yellows" included two Belorussians and four Bulgarians – and 49-year-old Markhel, the ex-forward of the national team of Belarus, has kindly given his usual place in the offense to younger Alexander Georgiev from Bulgaria, keeping dispatcher's functions for himself. And since the "yellows" met the "blues" (three Finns and three Japaneses) in the first semi-final, center spot of the pitch saw a fight of the two main "primas" of the tournament – Eremenko and Markhel. The "Russian Finn" Eremenko who has played in the A-teams till his 42 (Alexei is 51 today) is still in great shape and brilliant with his signature passes from the outside of the foot which would trick the opponent's defense again and again. And still it were the "yellows" headed by Markhel and Pavlov – the defensive bulwark – who broke through to the final winning 2:0. As for the other semi-final, Aubakirov scored with a nice long-distance kick and mighty Dusmanov made confident saves of almost all the incoming balls. And the "greens" defeated the "reds" with a devastating score 4:1.
So it resulted in the "blues" and "reds" fighting for the third place, each of the teams containing players who used to play for youth teams on Valentin Granatkin Memorial! Moreover, Alexei Eremenko managed to attend the Memorial twice in the early 1980s (though in Moscow instead of Leningrad). And Igor Sukhovei, a graduate of the famous St. Petersburg school Smena, played on the last Soviet Valentin Granatkin Memorial in 1991 when the U-18 Smena team took part in the tournament for the first and the last time. "Many guys from that team became famous players – both goalkeepers Dmitrii Alekseev and Pavel Dyakonov, defenders Denis Mashkarin and Pavel Levkovsky, midfielder Igor Zazulin, forward Dmitriy Lipartov" – says Sukhovey thinking back of those times. He has played for Prometey-Dynamo, for Smena-Saturn and for Lokomotiv in his native city of St. Petersburg. He also played for Luch Vladikavkaz, Dynamo Vologda and even in Vietnamese Championship in the end of his career!
And his match for the third place Sukhovei started... in the goals. After conceding a ludicrous goal he organized himself and even cleared the "unclearable" kick by Eremenko! Omnipresent Sukhovei finished the match in offense scoring the victorious goal for the "reds" 3:2.
The final match of the coaches' tournament turned out to be intriguing. First half was won 3:1 by the "yellows" headed by Markhel and Pavlov. However, the "greens" enforced by Surgautas – ex-goalkeeper for the Lithuanian youth team, participant of Valentin Granatkin Memorial 2002 – drastically improved in the second half and won after scoring five goals. That was the win shared by everybody without real winners or losers. All the participants got a great energy and joy boost and were happy to be photographed altogether.