Valeri Gazzaev insists Dynamo Kyiv will not be taking Russian champions Rubin Kazan lightly ahead of the Champions League Group F opener at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium.
Gazzaev, a Russian, who last season was in charge of CSKA Moscow, is only too familiar with the threat posed by tonight’s opponents.
“I have great respect for Rubin, a capable and ambitious team,” he said. “I have come up against them many times, and though they haven’t changed much since I faced them [with CSKA Moscow] last season, they are more experienced and confident.
“They say we have an advantage as this is Rubin’s debut at this level, but I disagree – they have a lot of internationals and players with experience of European competition, and their Bukharov-Semak-Domínguez attacking trio is very impressive. But my team are also very well prepared. I’m confident of their ability and fitness.
“I’m not worried ahead of my first game at this level as Dynamo coach. We all know the prestige of the competition and will do our best. We have strengthened this summer and are especially pleased with Andriy Shevchenko; he’s improving every day.”
Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev said his players were excited at the prospect of making their Champions League debut.
We’re glad to find ourselves in the company of clubs as great as Dynamo Kyiv, Inter and Barcelona,” he said. “Most of our players and fans were happy with the draw. We don’t have much experience but I expect a very close and interesting game tomorrow. We know our opponents very well. The level of football played by Ukraine’s leading sides – Dynamo and Shakhtar Donetsk – is really high.
“We are in good shape now, ready to do battle with the hosts. For me, it’s not a key point to defeat Valeri Gazzaev but just to win this game. We have lots of good, skilful players. Unfortunately we are without the suspended Macbeth Sibaya, but we have enough quality midfielders to replace him.”