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Popov: Our sole goal is claiming the top spot

Saturday, August 6, 2016



This new season, Shakhtar U19 will be headed by Serhiy Popov. Before the start of the season, the team coach gave an interview to shakhtar.com

- The thrill of returning to the native club, where I grew up, is just positive. I feel comfortable. The Academy Director approached me with the offer to head Shakhtar U19. After discussing all the issues, we have reached a consensus and mutual understanding.

- Who are the team's coaching staff?
- Firstly, Gennadiy Orbu. He has worked with this group of players born in 1998 and perfectly knows them. Also, the fitness coach Tymur Skorykh – the young and promising man, who was introduced into the club structure not so long ago. And the goalkeeping coach Volodymyr Savchenko. So, there were not any major changes, except myself, the new man at Shakhtar U19.

- How was the team formed? What players did you know before, who have you worked with?
- Previously, I looked after the boys born 1998-1999. I wasn’t thoroughly familiar with the training process, but I knew nearly everyone through games, I had an idea of everyone. The team is staffed with U17 players, who finish school and move to U19 group. The 1999 group is pretty good: we took 10 people, plus here we had some boys born 1998. In actual fact, the team is half new. But on the other hand, a lot of guys already trained here, with some even playing, for instance Chekh. The guys know all the requirements, there is nothing new.

- Tell us about the pre-season training.
- We met on 1 July, then we had trials for two days. For two weeks we worked in Schaslyve, we played three friendly matches. Our opponents were Stal (Kamenske), Chaika and Arsenal. Since the guys spend all their time here – residing here and training – we have decided to change the surroundings a bit. We went to Uzhhorod for a training camp, played two games there. I think that's a positive thing, and that journey was really beneficial. In total, we claimed three wins, and two draws.

- Are you satisfied with the work done?
- Basically, yes. There are certain issues. Maybe, I would like to have a little bit stronger opponents in the friendlies. But in general, we have fulfilled everything we wanted to.

- What are the challenges facing the team this season?
- Our sole goal is trying to claim the top spot in order to take part in the UEFA Youth League later on. This goal was never off the agenda in the previous seasons, but last year the guys failed to claim the league title. We must draw the right conclusions, correct the mistakes and move forward. I believe in the guys and in the fact that we can achieve the result. It is important that the players have the right attitude and motivation. I think the team coaches have enough skill, patience and knowledge for the boys to understand that and try to win the tournament.