– This isn`t the first time I`ve taken part in this tournament, – said Anatoly Davydov. – Three years ago, as soon as I started coaching the youth team, I immediately prepared my players for the CIS Champions Cup. It was interesting to see the way my new players performed in the Cup then. There are definite problems when playing at this time of year though: each coach prepares his team for such an early tournament in his own way. Every coach has his own goals and levels that he has to bring his players to. Nowadays clubs set themselves very serious goals, and have large budgets to achieve these goals, so many coaches refuse to take part in tournaments, or send their reserve teams to participate. For visiting teams this tournament is a chance to send their players to play Russian football, to play in a more serious tournament than their own local leagues.
– What goals does your team have for the tournament?
– We have one goal – to prepare our players for the club`s main team, for Luciano Spalletti. For our young players the CIS Champions Cup is a very serious tournament that gives our youth players the chance to show what they can do in front of our fans. It`s a chance for them to prove that our youth team isn`t the leader of the Russian youth championship for nothing. Over the last three years our youth team has produced players who now play for their club`s main side. This list includes Alexey Ionov and Maxim Kanunnikov in Zenit, Anton Sosnin and Alexander Khokhlov in Samara, and other players who are now playing in the first division. Our players have motivation, and we`ll try to help them increase their motivation even more while at the same time improving their level of play. We`re going to try to show our fans that we have footballers born in 1993–94 who are capable of playing well for Zenit. We`re rotating our players, choosing the best ones.
– And at this CIS Champions Cup in particular?
– We want to play as well as possible, to show the Zenit style of play. We`ll try to make it to the final. If we get there that will be a real achievement. We`re hoping that fan support for our team will be just as strong as for Zenit in general. This is really important to the young players.