Published: Monday, 16 January 2017 22:14

There will be a new winner!

It’s now definite that Slovenia, the current Granatkin Memorial cup holder, won’t repeat their last year success. The currently ongoing tournament witnessed a big surprise (if not a sensation) Monday, January 16th. The surprise turned out to be very pleasant for Kazakhstan and for all their fans who keep on quantitatively enlarging the support on the stands of the Peterburgsky SCC from match to match. Despite attractive and very intense football played by the team of Aleksander Kuznetsov, the likely team to win the third quarter-final match was Slovenia, brought here by the last year’s triumphant Igor Benedejčič. The last group match his players found their play and got a convincing 3:0 win against quite strong Saint Petersburg.

But Kazakhstan had other view with regard to who should be playing in semi-finals from this pair. Yerkebulan Seidakhmet, the leader of the Kazakhstan attacking line, did not score this time. But he was well supported by his peers from midfield – Zhanali Pairuz scored from open play in the first half, and Aidos Oral was accurate from a penalty spot in the second. Try as they might the Slovenians were unable to score even once – 2:0 Kazakhstan is celebrating!

Russia got an even stronger win in its quarter-final match of the 2017 Granatkin Memorial. The Russian defense still has zero conceded goals (the only one on this tournament!) in a series of four consecutive games. The last team to get defeated was Bulgaria. The total goal difference for Galaktionov’s team is now a stunning 15:0. But, frankly speaking, the tournament spectators do not still have a certain answer whether Russia is so impressively strong on the Granatkin Memorial or it is just lucky with its opponents. The same indicator of goal difference for Bulgaria (that reached quarter-finals), for instance, is a sad 1:7…

A number of fans consider Greece the dark horse favorite of the tournament. After a sensational defeat from Tajikistan in their starting match, the Greeks got sportingly angry and crashed Estonia and Bulgaria in the group (4:0 each). Only some miracle bothered them from scoring several times in the first half in a quarter-final against Latvia. The Latvians also got many positive reviews from the fans in St. Petersburg, and they managed to keep a 0:0 draw till the end and to turn the match to the shoot-out. The penalty series got long as all the field players had to take their shots in both teams. It was almost the time for the goalkeepers. But eventually the strongest team won…

The last semi-finalist of the tournament was also defined in the shoot-out. To the great happiness of the fans, it was the Saint Petersburg team that secured a place in the top four. Let us remind that before the start of the tournament Saint Petersburg agreed to “transfer” its five key players to team Russia. And now the twist of fate brought these two teams against each other in semi-finals!

Given the above mentioned problems with the squad in the team led by Vladimir Kazachionok, their achievement can already be considered a success. Having made two saves in the penalty shoot-out, Vasily Fedosov, a goalkeeper from the FC Zenit Academy, became the man of match.

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