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2016-01-05 _1Sergey KIRYAKOV: “Winter football in excellent conditions – a valuable experience for young football players” 


Seven and a half thousand spectators who attended Valentin Granatkin Memorial final match between Russia and Korea on January 11, 2015, will remember this game for a long time. And the reason is an incredibly dramatic win of the Russian Youth team (players born in 1997 year) coached by Sergey Kiryakov. The Koreans were leading 1:0 after the first half and had been keeping this minimal gap nearly till the very end. But Kiryakov guys managed to show their character and will by scoring two almost last minute goals to gain a spectacular win 2:1. 


It’s been almost a year. There’s football once again here in St. Petersburg first days of January and once again we welcome Sergey Kiryakov, the unique person for Valentin Granatkin Memorial (who won the tournament both as a football player and as a coach). Only this time Kiryakov moved from the coach bench to the VIP box upstairs. 


– Do you watch all the games on the tournament? Or maybe you only favor the Youth team of Russia? 


– Of course, I watch Russia U-18 games with special attention. It consists of the players who are only one year younger than those who form a national team that I am working with. It’s clear – it’s the possible perspective for the guys and it’s my interest as a coach. Along with that, I am trying to watch as many matches as possible on this tournament in order to assess the potential and capabilities of every team and further to make a general observation about the current edition of Granatkin Memorial. 


– And what are your first impressions about the two starting match-days when each of the 14 participating teams has already played at least once? 


– Good average level of the teams. Frankly speaking I have already chosen 3-4 teams that simply have to qualify and play in semi-finals of this tournament fighting for medals with each other. I think that even if I am wrong with my “internal” forecast then it won’t be too wrong (smiling). Certainly, Russia is in these four as a team that is notably one of the strongest here. 


– How did you like Slovakia who have severely beaten Japan in their first match? 


– Above all, I was impressed how calm the Slovaks were creating this high score win. But overall I was not surprised for Slovakia is traditionally bringing a strong and well trained team to St. Petersburg. This team has all the chances to fight for the highest places in my view. 


– Would you mention any of the footballers playing here specifically? 


– I would not do this for one simple reason. So far I haven’t seen any truly bright “stars” this year who can make a favorable result for their team individually. I don’t see any “spicy” or non-traditional play. They still lack skills, and there’s team play prevailing both in attack and in defense. Almost all the teams are being pragmatic. And when else do you risk and improvise if not when you’re 17? 


– Just like you once in Dynamo Moscow with your partners Kolyvanov and Kobelev … You can barely imagine nowadays 17-18-year-olds not only making it to A-team of the top division, but playing the first roles in the team! 


– Add here insane competition for a place in “the starting eleven” that my partners and I had to win in Dynamo! There are just few of such examples now. The young players are performing for their junior squads of their teams for way too long. The process of growing up becomes long... Although we have positive examples now, like Zenit-2 and Spartak-2 which are playing well in the FNL. 


– You won Valentin Granatkin Memorial in different roles – as a player of the national team of the USSR and as a Head coach of the Youth team of Russia. Do you have some special attitude towards this tournament? 


– Yes, I do, certainly! (smiling) 


– And still. Could I kindly ask you to share your impartial opinion with regard to the future of this tournament. Whether it’s viable? Does modern football need the Granatkin Memorial? 


– Yes, without a doubt. It’s a great tournament and the level of football is decent. In fact, everything is OK here! We need to continue this. I know, some football club top managers were saying that the timing of the tournament is not right for those clubs begin trainings after the New Year. Well, I think it’s not that important for the young 17-year old players who come to St. Petersburg unlike experienced players who start to prepare for the season in their clubs. And it’s very valuable for the youngsters to play in such cozy conditions when it’s warm and bright with minus 18 outside. And, moreover, it’s a good international level. So I am certain that Valentin Granatkin Memorial should live onwards and only develop keeping opening new football names for us. This is its main objective. 

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Официальные партнеры Российского футбольного союза / Official partners of the Football Union of Russia

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Официальные партнеры турнира / Official partners of the tournament

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Copyright 2011 Мемориал Валентина Гранаткина / Valentin Granatkin Memorial - Кирьяков интервью ИНГ.
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