The victory over Greece made Georgy Yartsev, the coach of Russia's national football team, sincerely happy.
"I am sincerely pleased with the victory in the match against the Greeks because we knew that our opponent would spare no effort to score points," he said at a press conference after Russia's last game in the European Championships. Russia won 2-1.
According to Yartsev, he was particularly pleased that the players that just started playing for the national team did not give up. "By and large, it is a signal win for the new players, who learned what it means to play against Europe's best footballers, the future belongs to these young players," he stressed.
Yartsev said that a detailed analysis of the national team's Euro 2004 performance would be done in Moscow. "I understand that we failed to accomplish the main goal: to advance to the quarterfinals," he said. "There are objective and subjective reasons for this but it is a different matter."
Touching on his future as the coach of the national team, he said that his contract was good until 2005, "but if the executive committee of the RFS [Russian Football Union] decides to dismiss me from this post I will naturally comply."
Yartsev confessed that he welcomed Portugal's qualification for the quarterfinals. "I established a warm and friendly relationship with Scolari [coach of the Portuguese team] during the selection," he said. "Before each Euro 2004 match, except the game against Portugal naturally, our team's coaching staff received a fax with wishes of success to the Russian team signed by Scolari, Luis Figo and the Portuguese team's captain Fernando Couto."
He also expressed gratitude to all of the people who created fine conditions for the Russian national team at its headquarters in Vilamoura.
Russia's team could and should have performed better at Euro 2004 in Portugal. This idea was the focus of what Russian players said after their last match.
For instance, Dmitry Kirichenko who was voted the player of that match said, "it is always pleasant to receive individual awards but it would have been even better if the whole team had great successes."
Yartsev said at the press conference after the game that he was sorry he had not used Kirichenko in the two previous matches against Spain and Portugal.
Goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev, who replaced Sergei Ovchinnikov after he had been sent off in the previous game, said that he was content with his play. "I am especially happy that I did not get discouraged in the difficult situation but one cannot be satisfied with the national team's performance."
Veteran international player Vladislav Radimov, who plays for Zenit in St. Petersburg, said, "the organization of the tournament is simply wonderful. As for our performance, you have seen everything for yourself."
By contrast, Lokomotiv defender Dmitry Sennikov was not disappointed: "If my mood is compared with my mood after we lost to the Belgians and dropped the World Cup in 2002, I am more pleased to leave after our win. Now, we, as it were, sugared the pill by winning after two losses. It was vice versa in Japan: we won first and then suffered two defeats."
Otto Rechagel, the coach of the Greek team, said that his players had accomplished the task of advancing from the group and "will further try hard to enjoy playing." He said that he knew the game against Russia would be difficult and that he told his players that it would be wrong to play half-strength against the Russians. "I am glad that we managed to get the goal we needed in the match with Russia, despite the two quick goals."
The Russian team leaves Faro for Moscow on Tuesday, June 22.
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