Whilst we are still immersed in EURO 2012, I decided to start a thread for the upcoming Ukrainian Premier League season.
Here is my write up on the two teams making a comeback to the UPL:
. Won the title by 6 points, and their foundations were based on a very strong and organized defense, they shipped very few goals the whole season, and obviously home advantage based on their far-western location in a dilapidated Avangard stadium helped.
The mid-season acquisition of veteran Ukrainian striker Olexandr Kosyrin
, helped them along the way, and he finished the league as top goal-scorer with 19 goals. another seasoned striker - Lasha Jakobia
, who made his name at Metalist also put in 10, and they will have the first Japanese player to play in Ukraine's top flight - striker Yasuhiro Kato
ex-Ukrainian international Vyacheslav Sviderskiy
is the big name in the back, and the team is marshaled by the captain Babenko
The middle is controlled by Balkan duo Aleksandar Trisovic
; a good defensive ex-Serbian international midfielder, who played for Red Star and Metalist, and Mirko Raicevic
; who has played for Zorya and Chornomorets, and also been capped 3 times by Montenegro. The creative spark will come from Dmytro Trukhin
, who led the team with 12 assists in 33 games.
. The team has yo-yo'ed back to the top flight, and is a favourite of many neutral followers of Ukrainian Football. They in fact finished on level points (76) with Sevastopol, but a better season record ensured they got promoted. Sevestopol appealed for a replay with Zapor, but looks like it was all in vain.
Zapor play at the modest, but football-exclusive Slavutych Arena, and have a loyal following, which ensured that the 12,000 stadium is always at near capacity (although they understandably only averaged 4,000 in the First League this year).
The team is based around their captain Junior
who was a revelation during their ultimately failed campaign to stay up in the UPL in 2010/2011. He led the First League in assists this past season with a staggering 18, and scored 9 goals (5 from the spot). He has the ability to play as a true #10, but also as a deeper #9 in providing the assists. The rest of the goals will have to come from ex-international, and Shakhtar favourite Olexiy Belyk
. He netted 13 times in the past season, and will be aided by 24-year old Yevhen Pisotskyi
who scored 11 times, and created goals for Belyk on several occasions.
Expect Mohamed Achraf
, young winger Serhiy Sydorchuk
, and Serhiy Rudyka
to be the familiar faces throughout the season for Zapor in the middle of the park. However, Metalurh have quite a deep team, and a very strong youth academy, so either competition for a first team place or bad results could prompt changes in the midfield.
Young Cameroonian Adolphe Teikeu
can operate as both a defensive midfielder and defender, and will be joined at the back by Brazilian Matheus
who played every game in Zapor's league season.Andriy Boyko
and Andriy Nestero
v are the other central defensive figures.
With the exception of Junior, a special mention should go to Yevhen Opanasenko
who is the other star in the Zapor team. The talented 21 year old has become a key part of the Ukrainian U-21 setup and was a consistent performer for Zapor. With a good season, he could earn a move to a bigger team, or at least Zapor will have a hard time holding onto their best prospect.