Sergei Semak: "Akhmat are usually strong, so the matches are often difficult"

The Zenit manager’s words on the upcoming away match against Akhmat, Danil Krugovoy and International Beer Day.

Sergei Semak: "Akhmat are usually strong, so the matches are often difficult"

Last season's top scorer Gamid Agalarov is now playing for Akhmat. Are the defenders getting ready to play against him especially, or he alone is not key to everything?

“Gamid certainly had a successful season, he scores a lot. We have to pay attention to his individual qualities, his skills in the penalty area. Though Akhmat have three forwards now, and their manager is going to decide who will be playing. We’ll be training for any possible scenario. Obviously a forward is a part of the team, and the most important aspect is how the team is playing, how it’s helping them create good chances.”

A question regarding Danil Krugovoy. Judging by statistics and play time he’s losing the competition for the place in the starting team as a left defender to Douglas Santos. In winter there were news that Krugovoy wanted to go on loan, but you were against it stating that Danil is an important squad player. It’s worth mentioning that he is 24 years old, and the lack of play time might take a negative toll on his future career and growth. What’s your opinion on the situation with Krugovoy and his future at Zenit? Perhaps it would be better for him to go on loan?

“I absolutely don’t think so. Danil just needs to continue training, when he’s in good physical form, he plays. Regarding the competition, I’ve already said that Douglas can play in different positions, and it depends on Krugovoy how ready he is to work hard and win the competition or to be at his top fitness level. We will find a place for him, but the main requirement is for him to play well. As for a loan, I don’t think he is a young player who needs to advance, he is a mature football player. Obviously he has some things to work on, but generally speaking he is a solid player in our team. There is no way ten people could play for the whole season. If you use such approach, then you should keep only ten footballers and send the other off on loan. It’s impossible.”

As for the squad, who might not play in the upcoming match? Also when the team is traveling to Grozny, everyone says the cliché phrase that a difficult match awaits them, but often they don’t talk about other cities this way. What is this for games in Grozny?

“You’re right, it’s not a cliché, all of the matches are difficult, and it’s a fact. Why? Well, it’s a southern team, they are quite hot-tempered, and they will train on the highest level to face the champions, it gives them additional determination. The pitch is very slow as well, all of the speed advantages regarding working with the ball and passes often get even on such pitch. All of it combined gives equal chances for both teams. Action, competition and determination take one of the main roles, and Akhmat are usually strong in those aspects, so the matches are often difficult.

Regarding the squad, nothing has really changed. Vyacheslav Karavaev is starting to train with the first team. Gustavo Mantuan is slowly going to start taking part in some of the exercises with the team. They should be fully back to training next week. As of Daler Kuzyaev, he will join a bit later.”

Could you clarify that? Later than the originally stated period of four weeks or as of now?

“Later for Gustavo and Vyacheslav, we’re waiting for them to join the team next week, we expect Daler to come back a bit later.”

How would you describe the goalkeeping position? From the age standpoint it’s pretty balanced, there is an old-timer, a youngster and a middle one. How is the situation with them now?

“The situation is stable. You’re right, in terms of age it’s formed well. As of the conditions, Odoevskiy seems to be good, more confident than at the start of the season. Mikhail Kerzhakov keeps training and he’s always ready to play. Ivan still needs to get used to everything and improve his physical condition. We certainly will be looking for the opportunities to view him on the pitch when the time is right for it.”

After the match against Khimki you said that the team was lacking enthusiasm after an outstanding victory over Spartak in the Super Cup. Now you had a big win over Lokomotiv. Do you have any concerns that the next opponent will be underrated again since it’s not a big club?

“Obviously it’s part of our job, the concerns are always there in one way or another. The team is training as usual now. The previous match has already been forgotten, at least by the team, because we’re getting ready for the next match, and all of the thoughts are only about the game against Akhmat.”

At the end of the week the international beer day is celebrated. Will you celebrate if the team gets good results? In general, what is your opinion on beer? There’s going to be a Day of railway troops, but I’ve already asked you about the railways last time.

As for the beer, I’m indifferent about it, and I can’t really be an adviser in this regard. Cheers to all of the enthusiasts though. I think it’s definitely a big day for people who love this drink. For me it’s going to be just a usual day, sadly or luckily. I’d rather celebrate a wine day, not a beer one (smiles).”