2002 World Championship. Oleg Romantsev’s headache

Chief coach of the Russian combined football team and Moscow team Spartak, Oleg Romantsev is in for hard times, a trial is coming on both front lines.

To start with, Spartak has got at least two important rivals at Russia’s football championship this year, CSKA and Lokomotiv. It may turn out that Spartak will be playing the overtaking role within the whole season, a very unusual one for Romantsev’s team. Indeed, it will be hard for the team to stand such a serious race, as its winner psychology has been formed within a dozen of years.

As it is seen from results of the championship’s five rounds, unfortunately, the overtaking role is the reality for Spartak and the coach.

During the recent game held with Anji (Makhachkala) last weekend, Spartak hardly avoided a defeat. The third goal was successfully scored by Spartak only during the added period, the final result was 3:3. The result could be considered good for any other Russian team, especially during matches in Dagestan. But not for the Russian champion. As a result, Spartak is rated fourth with eight points after five rounds now, it is seven goals less than CSKA, rated first. CSKA has achieved a phenomenal result: five victories over five games (15 points). Lokomotiv is rated second with 13 points, then follows Saturn-RENTV (the Moscow region) with 10 points.

Is it a tendency? Or just failures, typical for beginning of the season, when some players overestimate themselves and underestimate the rivals? As it is known, Romantsev explains such situation with the latter variant. However, Spartak has already lost the match with Moscow’s Lokomotiv, the most important game, by the way.

Romantsev’s another headache is the coming world championship. If Spartak still remains in the average group, the fans, yearning for triumphant victories, will not forgive the team. The Russian team is necessarily to perform its best at the matches with Belgian and Tunisian teams, at the time when a loss of the game with the Japanese team, the championship host, will be rather excused.

If Russia’s team takes the second place, the situation still will not be perfect. If Spartak is rated second, it will have to play with Brazil next. Brazil, in its turn, has not got any serious rivals in the group. The recent match with participation of the Japanese team demonstrated, it was wonderfully trained and well-determined, as for further victories.

Last unofficial match of the Russian combined team with an Estonian team, that resulted in a sensational defeat with the score 1:2, may give rise to gloomy speculations. We should admit, the defeat became a result of Romantsev’s experiment: the coach released beginners in the second period. Should the players were not replaced, the Russian team could have scored a more adequate result. SPORT-Express sports portal published after the match: “Many problems could have been avoided, if the coach did not change the staff, including those psychological ones. Losers usually face such problems. At the same time, one of the beginners, 18-year-old Dmitry Sychev performed wonderfully. His debut was a success. It looked as though he had been playing in the team for many years already.”

Another unofficial match with the French team, world and Europe’s champion is scheduled for April 17. A tournament with participation of four combined teams: Russian team and teams from Yugoslavia, Belarus and Ukraine, who are not among the teams allowed to the world championship, is to take place in Moscow on the eve of the world championship. We hope, Romantsev’s team will do its best and achieve good results.

According to the last questioning of NTV-plus-SPORT, TV channel, the majority of Russians hope, the Russian combined team will leave the group in which it is located now. SPORT-Express held a questioning on the Internet as concerning the number of goals to be scored by Vladimir Beschastnykh (certainly, the best forward now) in the final part of the world championship. 23,2% of the questioned think, he will score none, 15,5% - three goals, 10,1% - four, 12,2% - five and more, over 30% of the questioned think the forward will score one or two. We hope, the Russian combined team and Vladimir Beschastnykh particularly will do their best at the world championship. In the interview to Argumenty i Facty , Russia’s weekly, Romantsev has outlined the team’s minimum-objective: to withdraw from the H-group, after that the players may pursue new, more complex tasks. At the same time the coach understands the situation perfectly well. He says: “I say once again, Russia deserves to take a higher position not more, but less than any other country. Say, why did we expect to win the matches with France, Italy and Germany? To beat such rivals a better work and training are to be accomplished. Or, do we really think Russia’s football infrastructure and football players are better than in other countries? Does the state really pay much attention to football in Russia, just the way it is done in Italy, for example?”

Romantsev says, the team “will do everything possible to perform with dignity in the championship’s final.”

What is more important, as the coach thinks, the team has got a strong stimulus for victory. “Money is not the most important one. Patriotism and honour of the state flag were considered out-of-date five or six years ago. But today the notions are topical once again. The recent Olympic Games may serve an example to it. Being driven with such spirits, considerable results can be achieved, I think.”

As for self-seeking of legionaries, Romantsev thinks “it started at the time when commitments as concerning players were not observed. I do not quite like the word “legionary” to be used as concerning Russian football players. When we call players like this, we treat them as strangers. But nothing of the kind is observed in other countries: France, Spain and Brazil are proud of their players, who have gone to play with other teams. Although the players are in other teams abroad, nobody calls them and other professional players unpatriotic.”

Oleg Romantsev says, we will be very likely witnesses of arbitrariness of referees at the June world championship, the same unfair attitude to Russian athletes we observed at the last Olympics. But specialists and partial fans will also see the training degree of the Russian team at the world championship. Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

In the photo: coach of Russia’s Spartak, Oleg Romantsev

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/01/39091.html

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