Viktor Kovalenko: Fans in Oakland took a liking to us
Shakhtar midfielder, who has become Man of the Match in the FIFA U-20 World Cup game against the USA, gave an interview to the club’s official website.
- Viktor, our congratulations on your great performance and a good result. What emotions are you experiencing?
- Thank you. Just positive emotions! The whole team are very happy, but we feel tired after the game. First of all, we need to recover well, come to know the next opponents and to prepare for taking them on.
- The match against the United States was a meeting between the two leaders. Has it been the toughest encounter so far?
- All three meetings were difficult. We’ve been playing to the max. But our most difficult was the first match against New Zealand. Today, we really wanted to beat the US to stay in Oakland to play on. The local fans even took a liking to us!
- Do they actively support you in matches?
- Yes, they do, we enjoy great support. Besides, a lot of Ukrainian fans attend our games – I think, some two or three hundred people. After the final whistle we approached them – they congratulated us. A couple of people even attended our training sessions.
- Why do you score goals only in the second half, while the first halves in the World Cup end 0-0?
- I do not know. Most importantly, we do score some. Of course, we want to do so in the first half as well. But it turns out that all the goals happen in the second one. I think it's just a coincidence.
- You netted your first goal against the United States after set play. Did you immediately decide to take the free kick you had earned yourself?
- Yes. In training, Yevhen Chumak and I take the free kicks. Today, the position was more favourable for me. I managed to lob it over the wall and into the corner. While the second and third goals were secured by my teammates. I just had to finish it off. Thanks a lot to the guys for having created those chances.
- Did saving the spot kick by Sarnavskyi play an important role?
- Perhaps, it was a turning point. I watched the replay: it wasn’t a penalty case at all. And had the opponents scored, it would have been very disappointing. After that we felt more confident, got more strength from our inner reserve and stepped it up. That’s great that it so happened.
- Was it important to claim just the top spot?
- Yes, immediately after the match against Myanmar, the coach told us that we need to beat the United States and stay in Oakland. They really took a liking to us in that city, so we’ll be delighted at their great support in the future.
- Does it feel nice be the World Cup’s top scorer?
- Of course, but it is important to finish the tournament in this status! And what will be - we'll see. First of all, I think about the team results rather than my own.
- What thoughts do you have before the knockout stage?
- Victories bring confidence. But we are not going to get snooty about it. And then, I think, we will succeed in every way.
- What are the team’s immediate plans?
- Tomorrow morning, we will have a recovery training, the rest of the time will be spend on massage and relaxation. We will wait expect the opponents to be revealed and prepare for the match.