DINAMO MINSK boss Sergei Gurenko reckons his side were handed the ‘most uncomfortable’ draw when paired with Derry City in the UEFA Europa League first round qualifier.
And the 45 years-old Belarusian isn’t exactly over the moon to have to travel to Ireland given the visa difficulties he’s expecting to encounter for the first leg tie at Brandywell Stadium on July 12th.
I think that from all possible options we got the most uncomfortable. The team is from Ireland and there is additional routine with visas. I would prefer teams from Armenia or Moldova.Sergei Gurenko
Gurenko will be familiar with Irish football having been Slavoljub Muslin’s assistant when Serbia beat Ireland 1-0 in Dublin last September to help book qualification for the World Cup.
Dinamo also eliminated St Pat’s Athletic from the second round stage, winning 2-1 on aggregate in 2016 and while Gurenko wasn’t involved, he expects a difficult test against another Irish team who ‘play power football’.
“I think that from all possible options we got the most uncomfortable,” he said. “The team is from Ireland and there is additional routine with visas. I would prefer teams from Armenia or Moldova.
“As I know, the Irish, they will play power football. It was a very difficult match (against St Pat’s), especially - on the road. I think that this time it will be the same.”
The former AS Roma, Real Zaragoza and Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder might be a little far from the mark in terms of what he expects from Kenny Shiels’ side who are far from a powerful, long ball team but he believes he’ll have no problems doing his homework on the Candy Stripes before the first leg.
“We will have to play tough and meet the opponents as high as possible. There will also be a lot of play in the air and struggle for the ball. We will have to prepare well for these components.
“Now there are many sources where you can grab information: statistical services Instat or WyScout, you can learn everything without any problems.”
Would he have preferred to play the first leg at home?
“I don’t pay attention to such things, so I do not see much difference.”
It’s the second time in four years Derry have been drawn against Belarusian opponents having lost heavily to Shaktyor Soligorsk 6-1 in 2014 and with Slovakian side Dunajska Streda or Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia awaiting the winners in the second round, it has to be considered a nightmare draw for Shiels’ troops.
However, the City boss expects his side to be up for the challenge and is looking forward to European football returning to the Brandywell Stadium.
“It was probably as difficult a tie as we could have asked for,” said Shiels. “That said, I expect us to be right up for the challenge and we can look forward to a big European night at our new stadium.”
Dinamo are currently sitting second in the Belarusian Championship, six points behind BATE Borisov after 12 games. And as a measure of how tough a test it will be for Shiels’ charges, Shakhtyor Soligors are one point behind in third place.