Ismaily: Braga are strong team spirit wise

Shakhtar defender very well knows the capabilities of Braga. In the past, Ismaily moved to the Donetsk club from the Portuguese team. What to expect from the UEFA Europa League Last 8 clash? We are discussing that with the player.

- Did you feel that Shakhtar might lock horns in the Europa League with your former team?
- Many fans wanted me to encounter Braga. I received letters from them with such requests. I understood that it was possible, but didn’t fully realize it. Now I am pleased to be able to meet with the team I used to play for.

- You moved to Braga, when they had already had the experience of playing in the Europa League final (season 2010/11). Tell us about the strengths of this team.
- Braga are one of the top four Portuguese clubs. They have a close-knit team. They can very well prove themselves on the field and give their all in order to achieve the desired result. However, they have just few players from the squad I used to play for. But the team’s strong spirit has not vanished. I have been following the club performance.

- Back in the UEFA Champions League 2010/11 season, Shakhtar confidently beat Braga two times. What should the Pitmen do to repeat their success?
- As I said, they have just few players from the former squad. Any tem tends to develop and change for the better. Braga are no exception. We must be cautious with the opponents, trying to take advantage of our every chance.

- Braga rarely lose at home. The last time the club lost at their stadium happened in November against Benfica. Can we call them the home-lovers?
- You could say that. They just give their all at the home stadium and that's fine. Anyway, we will make every effort to claim an away win and interrupt their unbeaten run.

- Braga are coached by Paulo Fonseca, who you know for sure. In the 2012/13 season, when you moved from Olhanense to Braga, he took charge of Pacos de Ferreira and immediately claimed the third spot in the league, leading them to the Champions League. After that, he worked at Porto. What is Fonseca’s coaching philosophy?
- Paulo is a great mentor, a big professional with a wealth of experience. He just rushes forward and leads the team. I respect such coaches. It will be very interesting to meet with the new Braga.

- The Estádio Municipal de Braga to play host to the first leg is unique - it is built into a massive stone cliff. What do the players feel in such a special atmosphere, and how strong is the support of fans out there?
- In Portugal, they call this stadium the Magic Rock. There's a very special atmosphere reigning there. Braga fans are very loyal. We should expect an interesting football game and good support from the stands. To me personally, this kind of atmosphere gives even more motivation to be helpful to Shakhtar! If Mister entrusts me with a place in the line-up, I'll do my best for Shakhtar to advance further in the Europa League.

- You very well know Baiano, who was your teammate in the defensive third at Braga. You know Alan, who is already 36, but he was a key player in the team you were a member of. He is still the first-team regular. Will all this experience help you and Shakhtar in terms of preparation?
- Baiano and Alan are undoubtedly great guys and professional footballers, I really know them well. I think that if we scrutinise the opponents, spot their weaknesses and add my information, we will be able to have a general idea of Braga. This will help us to decently show ourselves in the upcoming matches.