Sergei Semak: “Our objective is to play to the best of our ability”

The Zenit manager’s press conference before the match against CSKA.

Sergei Semak: “Our objective is to play to the best of our ability”

Unfortunately there are a lot of problems in the squad. Odoevskiy and Kuzyaev are both out, Mantuan’s appearance is also uncertain, Claudinho is injured. Is it going to affect our tactics and formation, considering that CSKA score a lot (11 goals so far) and that they have very quick forwards? We’ve seen troubles against speed in Grozny.

“We’ll see. Either way we have players who are able to play in multiple positions, so we can make changes during the match no matter which formation we will start with. There’s always a backup option how to progress our attacks or how to play in defence easier. We still have some time, we’ll think this through. Regarding the squad problems, they’re always there more or less. It’s unfortunate that we lost Claudinho for some time, but now the other players have the opportunity to show what they can do and to use the chance they will get.”

As for the goalkeeper. Have you already chosen who is going to play against CSKA, Kerzhakov or will you give a chance to Ivan?

“We still haven’t made this choice. We have some time and a few training sessions, so we’re going to watch both Mikhail and Ivan and then we’ll decide who is going to play in the starting team closer to the match.”

The last two matches Zenit had eight foreigners in the starting team, and this is the maximum for the current limit. If I’m not mistaken, overall you have 10 players from other countries, not counting Alip. Does the foreigners limit make it harder for you? Wouldn’t it be easier if it got fully canceled?

“Of course it would be easier. Though the rules are the rules, so we make choices from what we have, not from what we want them to be. Currently it’s not a problem. We have enough Russians in our squad who can get on the pitch and play, so there are no problems for now.”

In the interview after the match with Akhmat you pointed out that the result was fair and that the mistakes in defence were the main reason. What conclusions can be made from this? How are you getting ready for the match with CSKA in this sense? How do you view their team this year, what are their strengths and are there any players to be particularly worried about?

“Regarding our game I don’t see any big problems. There were some mistakes on an individual level, but the human factor shouldn’t be excluded. As for our defence, even when we were down to 10 men, the opponent had only one chance, and it was after an individual mistake. Other than that I don’t see any problems. There are individual mistakes, but they’ll always be there, you can’t do anything about it. Speaking of CSKA’s game, they do play well now, they’re getting points and score a lot. We’re going to pay more attention to our game. We understand how their team plays. Our objective is to play to the best of our ability, to make our fans happy and to get the points.”

Is there a way for Sergeev and Cassierra to play together?

“This is certainly an option, it rightfully exists, and I’ve already talked about it. We have to think and consider if we need this formation and them playing together now or during the match. We’re going to pay attention to their condition, but for now I can’t say if they’re going to play in this match.”

Despite the mistake Alip made, how would you rate the performance of Alip and Adamov?

“I think both Nuraly and Arsen played quite good. They did have some tactical mistakes, but speaking about playing in defence and security, we didn’t have any major problems. On our home ground it’s a bit easier as we know the conditions of the pitch, and we have less technical flaws because the quality of our pitch is much better and it lets us play with more speed.”