RUSSIA – LATVIA 2:1 (1:1)
January 19th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Peterburgsky SCC, 1500 spectators
Best players: Maxim Karpov, Nikita Ivanovs
Post match comments
Nikolay Pisarev, Head coach of team Russia:
– It was a very tough game. We knew we were not in our best shape. We knew we needed to let everyone play and to give everyone a chance, and, hence, five substitutions during the game. But you also need to know how to win in such matches against a serious, well-organized opponent who is skillfully defending. I can praise the guys for keeping on pressing till we got the score we needed. We still have to work more. We are losing balls and also I don't like our movement. But we did well.
– This time you changed Sheidaev to Bolov in the starting lineup, but he didn't show much either. Do the strikers have problems because they are not ready, as you mentioned earlier?
– Yes. Sheidaev lost half a year. Choosing to go on loan he lost a lot. And it's clear he needs to restore his best shape over again. It's very important for a striker. Once he's fit, the goals will come. He had a lot of chances but could not finish them. The goals will be only in case you are in a good condition physically.
– It seemed that Sheidaev was starting his moves from the midfield a bit. Was this planned or did he decide to play like this himself?
– No there was no such plan, but I actually did not notice him playing this way. He was fighting in the penalty area, making the defenders be alert and trying to grab the ball. He had rather good moments near the goals. Our plan was to have a striker strictly play in the attacking line without any play in midfield. I'll repeat that he missed a lot and I see his desire to play on the trainings and so he's running back helping the midfield. He wants to be everywhere and to help everyone. He wants to take the ball, he wants to pass, he wants to score. And this can be explained by the pause that he's trying to catch up.
– You had Nikita Khaikin playing in the goals today. He was nervous and made several mistakes. One of them led to a conceded goal.
– This happens. Yes, the goalkeepers make mistakes at times. Even the very best do. But he did not surrender after that mistake and the team did not surrender. It's very important that Nikita made several saves after. And the team was there to help him scoring the second goal. I think the folks showed their character, and I praise them for this, given a number of problems we had with movement, tactics and chance conversion level. We were playing against a team that gave up the initiative from the very beginning. And they were playing well in defense. For almost 80 minutes we've been trying to crack this positional and smart defense. The standard kicks against were the most dangerous for us. Latvia did not bring any troubles from play.
– You were playing in positional attack getting to the penalty area and bumping into problems there. And it was one of the very first long distance shots that turned out to be a goal. Do you think you should have been taking more long distance shots?
– Maybe, yes. But a player who is taking a shot should feel confidence, should catch drive. And when your legs don't follow your head and your head is fogged and cannot follow events on pitch, then you start making wrong decisions and you're unable to concentrate for a shot. Hence, such a small number of long distance shots.
– Estonia became a group favorite and you'll be playing them next. The current situation dictates you to win, whereas they'll qualify with a draw...
– Estonia is a good team. We had them in the same group last Qualifying cycle, and both matches turned out to be very difficult. It's a well-organized team. And I am not surprised they are leading now. It's good that we have to achieve important goals in such matches. It's better to have such game to see our capabilities once again. It's easier to check the best qualities of our players on the background of a strong opponent and so we are looking forward to playing with Estonia.
Dainis Kazakevics, Head coach of team Latvia:
– In the whole, the game was interesting. It was a battle. Both teams wanted to show result. And I think that team Russia deserved a win, having shown its strong sides and having converted their chances. As for us, on the one hand, I can't reproach my guys in anything. They had desire and they were striving. They played as a well-trained team. On the other hand, they lacked energy for the finish and the substitutions didn't help to reinforce the game. Besides, two of our leaders missed this game. This also contributed to the fact that we couldn't oppose team Russia as equals till the end. Although we went forward and we had standards in the end. But we needed a little bit more. Overall, I am not satisfied with the result but I am satisfied with the play, with the devotion of the guys, especially the play in the first half. Thanks to the vertical play we managed to create good moments. But we lacked good finishing a bit. In the second half the advantage of the Russians was more evident, and so it is logical that they scored.
– Your team was followed by Marians Pahars on the stands, the Latvian national team Head Coach. Did your team know about it and were they not scared?
– Yes, Marian came to the changing room after the match to talk to the guys. Alexander Starkov and Marian are leaving today, so I had to stay in the changing room for some more time, too. Knowing that they are followed by the main national team was doubtlessly an additional motivation for the guys. So they tried to show themselves in terms of the quality of the game. But it seems to me that the guys still have to work to be aiming at a place in the national team. But the fact that the national team head coach is watching them from the stands is an excellent incentive. We are led by one objective that is to prepare players for the national team. And such games help us to prepare, to feel a degree of such games which the guys playing in the Latvian Championship cannot always feel.
– Your guys started to get spasms in their legs quite early, by the 75th minute. However, you have already made all the substitutions. Wasn't you worried that somebody wouldn't be able to continue playing and you would be in minority?
– And what could I do? I needed to substitute the central back because he asked for a substitution. I still waited for quite long before I substituted him. Well, it happens sometimes that you've made all the substitutions and somebody needs help like in this game. We ran out of substitutions – play on your morals and your will, or you'll play ten. And as for the early spasms in the legs, the guys were tired, for they spent much time moving without ball, and this is always more difficult than with the ball. And team Russia pressed us quite a lot, so here was the fatigue.