Coach Yuri Semin has warned that FC Dynamo Kyiv have run out of dress-rehearsals and must now deliver on the unforgiving stage of a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie against FC Spartak Moskva.
Dynamo struggled against Drogheda United FC in the second qualifying round, surviving a late rally by the Irish champions in Wednesday's 2-2 second-leg draw following a 2-1 away win. They can expect an even tougher examination against Spartak in a match-up reviving one of Soviet football's great rivalries.
Own worst enemies
"We create problems for ourselves sometimes, like against Drogheda," said Semin. "We clearly lack consistency and concentration, but we know this and we want to fix this as soon as possible." The fact Dynamo were hanging on after conceding a late Drogheda equaliser on the night, bears out the coach's concerns. Four days before they had lost 2-1 at home to FC Metalist Kharkiv in their third Premier League outing of the season. "We need to avoid slip-ups, like the defeat by Metalist, although they did have a few breaks in that match," continued Semin, the 61-year-old former Russia and FC Lokomotiv Moskva coach.
Semin has been in the job since December 2007 and, having seen FC Shakhtar Donetsk win the Ukrainian league and cup last term, he knows the time for results is now. Dynamo need to prevail in the meeting of probably Soviet football's best two supported clubs. With the third qualifying round first leg being played in Moscow on 13 August, he sounded a positive note, saying: "Only one thing matters – qualifying for the group stage. The identity of our opponents isn't that important. The honeymoon period, if there ever was one, is over. We have work to do but we have huge potential and my goal is to get every player to achieve that potential. We want success in the Champions League as well as aiming to win the national title and the cup. I think these players are ready for it."
Dynamo are still waiting for key midfielders Oleh Gusev, Carlos Corrêa and Ayila Yussuf to reach peak condition, yet Semin has been encouraged by the form of his bright young things. Artem Milevskiy and Olexandr Aliyev, both 23, were the goalscorers against Drogheda. The team has also featured 20-year-old Mykola Morozyuk, 18-year-old Andriy Yarmolenko and 19-year-old Artem Kravets. "I'm optimistic," the coach stated. "We are clearly making progress.