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Stepanenko: Zirka will want to prove themselves

Tuesday, July 19, 2016



The Pitmen's midfielder reflects on the start of the league campaign and the first match against Zirka

- Taras, what are your expectations for the upcoming season?
- First of all, it will be a completely different format. It will be harder for all title contenders, considering the second round with the participation of the top 6 teams in the standings. Perhaps the interest of the fans for this tournament will be higher. I don't know what to expect, but I hope these innovations will add zest to the League and make it stronger.

- How prepared are Shakhtar for the new season and the start of the championship?
- The matches will show. If we get positive results, then we are on the right track and we are doing everything right. We did a lot of work during the summer, with a lot of attention to tactics, and some things new to us. Of course, it takes time to understand the principles of the new head coach's game and do what he asks on the pitch. The analysis of the first official match showed that the team does understand these things.

- How would you rate your opponents in the first round of the championship? What surprises can Zirka provide?
- I'm confident that the coaches viewed Zirka's games and will provide us with the necessary information, when we start preparing for these opponents. They are a good team, winners of the First League. Zirka have qualified footballers, including those raised by Shakhtar. Of course, the team want to prove themselves, to show that not for nothing they have ascended to the Premier League. And they will try to prove it on the field in the game against Shakhtar.

- It so often happens that such teams compensate individual skill with great desire and ambition. Is there a chance you will underestimate your opponents?
- In no case should you look at the name of the opposing team. True, Shakhtar and Dynamo stand out among other teams in the League, which includes a large number of young players who previously played in reserve teams or the First League. But we need to get out on the field, play and win. Each victory gives us three points. We need maximum dedication in every match.

- A lot of teams in the domestic league demonstrate defensive play against Shakhtar, relying on the counters. How are you planning to carve through such defence?
- The coach focused our attention on the fact that this is how most teams play against us. We have certain tools for that. During training, we practise it all the time. Our task is to successfully use this experience during the games. I don't think this should be a problem, given the level of our players. We must help each other, and the opportunities will definitely occur.