DINAMO MINSK manager, Sergei Gurenko has called on his players to ‘please the fans’ as they make their long awaited return home to Dinamo Stadium - Belarus’ national stadium - after a six year absence.
Derry City have the honour of being the first opposition team to play a competitive match at the redeveloped stadium this afternoon and the club are expecting thousands of supporters to attend. (K.O. 4pm)
Dinamo’s last match at its traditional venue before its reconstruction was a 2-0 defeat to BATE Borisov on April 21st 2012 and it will be 35 years on from Dinamo Minsk’s first ever match in Europe when they played Grasshoppers in September 1983.
It has been out of action since while the work has been carried out in preparation for hosting the 2019 European Athletic Championships next summer and the club has been playing at the Traktor Stadium, less than three miles away.
Dinamo had originally hoped the stadium would be ready to host its Europa League second round qualifier should they progress but officials received word 24 hours before its first round clash with Derry at Brandywell that the Dinamo Stadium would be cleared to host the second leg with the Candy Stripes.
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko officially opened the impressive 22,000 seater stadium on June 21st last when a Dinamo Minsk and Brest Dinamo select played an exhibition match against the national team of Belarus. However, today’s return leg is a real cause for celebration for the Minsk fans who are thrilled to return home.
And while Kenny Shiels and his troops will want to spoil the party, Gurenko is delighted to be back on familiar territory which, he believes, will provide his players with an added incentive.
“We have been waiting for this for a long time, football players and fans,” said the Dinamo manager. “This is our native stadium, plus a very beautiful stadium,” he added. “It’s been hard to play the whole championship as a guest team (at Traktor Stadium).”
The Belarusians are in a dominant position in the tie following their comprehenive 2-0 victory at Brandywell Stadium last Thursday night.
Two away goals leaves them as massive favourites to progress and Gurenko expects his side to put on a show for its supporters now the hard work is done.
“The first half we deservedly won,” he said. “The second half will be played at “Dinamo” Stadium in Minsk. I think at the new stadium the team will please the fans,” he predicted onimously.
The Dinamo boss felt his side controlled the first leg against Derry and claimed he didn’t feel the urge to go for the jugular, content with the two away goals.
The early goal from Croatian defender, Nino Galovic was a bonus, however, he said he was surprised by the Candy Stripes’ cautious approach having expected Shiels’ men to race out of the traps from the first whistle.
“The guys followed the game plan and played well. They played very organised. I thought that the players of Derry City from the first minute will start quickly, try to suppress us with their aggression. But the opponents began very cautiously, very slow.”
Top scorer, Uladzimir Khvashchynski added a killer second goal in the second half which ensures Derry face a mammoth task if they’re to progress. When Conor McDermott was sent off for a second bookable offence with less than 10 minutes to go, the home support feared the worst but Gurenko explained he wasn’t overly concerned about scoring a third which would’ve ended the tie.
“We scored a good quick goal and had several more opportunities,” he continued. “In general, I did not want a full pack of goals, the main thing was to control the game. I’m happy with the result,” he smiled.
Midfielder, Mikita Kaplenka was substituted just 29 minutes into the first leg after sustaining a thigh injury and will miss the return leg but Gurenko will have Belarusian international, Artsem Bykau available as a quality replacement.
So a huge test awaits Derry at the impressive Belarusian national stadium where they trained yesterday but they’ll be hoping to dampen the enthusiasm of Dinamo’s highly anticipated return to its traditional home and overturn a first leg deficit in Europe for the first time in the club’s history.