The Russian team which is getting ready to compete at miniEURO2013 next month will be boosted by the presence of a former Russian international in their ranks.
Alexander Panov featured 17 times for his country, scoring a memorable double against the French side at Stade De France in 1999, but did not get the chance to play at the European Championships. Now, he is eager to take his chance to play as an amateur with both hands. “As a professional player, I was totally out of the European Championship, so I am glad for another chance I’ve got now, as an amateur this time”, said Alexander.
Panov is part of the crack Russian outfit, FC Bars, who hold the treble of the league, cup and champions league – Panov scored a hat-trick in the final – and they form the bedrock of the miniEURO2013 squad.
Those tournaments are toughest club competitions for amateur teams in Russia. Other deserving amateur players from the LFL (the Russian League) will also be summoned under the national team’s banner.
Before setting off for Greece, the national team players will spend a few days at dedicated gatherings; trainings and exhibition games that will help finalize the best line-up.
It is going to be a tough challenge for the Russian team: to hit the highest score they can in their debut year on the European arena. The Russians understand they are in a rather strong group and show utter respect for their closest rivals.
An official press release says, “Prizewinner of the last two EUROs, the CzechRepublic team is a very serious rival. Football is on surge in Germany now. And the Cyprus team should not be underestimated considering that Crete and Cyprus are very close, which means much support for our rivals.
The Russian team’s coaching staff are most concerned with the fact that all domestic tournaments were won by the strongest LFL players in a eight a side format while in Greece they will have to play by an unfamiliar six a side pattern. But Russians believe that the “victorious spirit” ingrained in the Russian boys will help them in a locker room as well as in the football field. Maxim Kovalchuk, Russia’s team captain, who is convalescing after an injury, has commented on his team’s prospects in Greece: “We respect all the rivals but are afraid of no one. Why go to the EURO if not to aim for the victory?!”
The football players heading for Rethymno will be followed by a TV crew that will be airing their “MiniEURO Diaries” every day. Live broadcasts of the national team’s matches are highly expected all over the country, as amateur football has recently become popular on Internet TV.
The team’s fans are also planning to come to Greece. Spending vacations at sea and supporting their team is an excellent opportunity offered by EMF, LFL and Team Russia.