Rashid Rakhimov: It’s hard to play against Zenit even with 11 players”

After his team’s loss to the blue-white-light blues, Amkar’s head coach explained how he followed the referees, and shared his views on why his team has done so poorly this season.

– How do you rate your players today, and the Zenit players?

– I don`t have the right to judge the play of the opposing team. As for my own players, I have nothing bad to say about them. Few teams can come to Petrovsky and dictate the match, playing their own way, which is what we did today. We played very well in the first half before the first red card… The red card broke the flow of the game. It`s hard to play against Zenit even with 11 players, and today it was even harder! I watched the referees constantly, their decisions… which weren`t always correct… The first goal happened due to a goalie mistake, unfortunately. He could have hit the ball off to the side, not right at Kerzhakov. And the second goal, the penalty kick… I`m upset that two of my key players won`t be able to play in the next match.

– How do you explain the fact that Amkar isn`t playing this season the way it usually does? And has such a low place in the standings?

– There are objective reasons. We haven`t played with out optimal team all season. About 80 percent of the injuries my players have had required operations. And there were matches when we just didn`t have any luck. We let stupid goals go by, goals in the last seconds, and lost points. When you have a lot of matches like that, you gradually fall to the bottom of the standings, and start fighting to keep your place in the league. There has to be luck in football. Unfortunately, we`re not getting the breaks this year.

– Everybody notices the fighting nature of Amkar`s players. They never give up. But we`d like to ask you about the league in general. What do you think about there being a limit on foreign players? What do you think about the “fall-spring” system?

– We`ve had a limit on foreign players for the last four years. If they did that to give Russian players the chance to grow, to play more… we`re not seeing those players now. And the price for those players that we do have has doubled. Russian players cost two times more than foreign players with the same level. Probably there was a desire to do something good, but price is the other side of the coin. As for the “fall-spring” system… all of Europe plays that way. I haven`t seen a lot of plusses to that yet, but we`ll have to go through it, and see what happens.