Sergiy Koridze: We can topple Argentina
"Old wine produces vintage quality" is a Chinese saying which recognizes experienced people who lead in their own field. But, 29-year-old Sergiy Koridze, arguably most influential figure of the Ukraine team, modestly plays down his importance when speaking with FIFA.com: "We are a group and it is teamwork that counts."
However, with a spot of semi-finals on the line, the softly-spoken Spartak Shelkovo striker appears determined and confident to win the all-important final group match with Argentina.
FIFA.com: Firstly, congratulation for your victory over USA.
Sergiy Koridze: Thanks.
You emerged as a more determined team against the USA with a deserved 3-1 win, but you yourself failed to find the net. Was it a strategy to take attention away from your team-mates to create space and chances for them?
I'm used to it, to be honest. This usually happens when we were face tough opponents. While other players can try to take chances to score, I am very happy if I can soak up a lot of pressure to give my team more opportunities. The key point is for our team to win the match.
Following this crucial match, you will have to battle it out against Argentina, who have showed their strength particularly in defence.
It is notable that Argentina have played very well as a group so far and without a doubt we will have to face a lot of pressure from them. I haven't played against the South Americans but some of my team-mates have in friendlies so we do know something about them. Furthermore, coach Gennadiy Lisenchuk has watched them a lot on videos so I believe he will employ a careful game plan to guide us to victory.
You proved to be "comeback kings" in the second group match with Egypt, where you came away to edge the African champions from three goals down - in a similar way to your famous comeback against the Netherlands in 1996. You scored a brace to help send your side to last eight.
That was an expected hard-fought encounter and it proved the match which decided who progressed into the last eight. They got off to a dream start when they capitalized on our defensive lapses to score three times and that made life extremely difficult for us. Three goals behind, we desperately needed to score to keep the team's morale up. We hit back hard and just six minutes after break, I opened the scoring and that changed the game. I think it was our team's durability and never-say-die spirit that won in the end.
Ukraine usually fare well against the European powers, but you lost 6-0 to Brazil in the opening match of the second stage. What are the strengths of the South Americans?
If we look back at the match, we can see our team created a lot of chances to score but all were squandered. At the other end, the Brazilians, with their superb finishing touches and cool heads, converted their chances well. And I have to admit that they played with better cohesion and fluidity.
Then, may we say South American teams have an edge over their European opponents?
No. Generally European teams have the advantage because five of them have advanced to the last eight, with only Brazil, Argentina and USA sharing the other three. But Brazil and Argentina are unquestionably the favorites to win the championship.
Do you think the title will end up in South American or Europe?
It is really hard to predict at the moment. As you have seen, the general level of skill and techniques has grown very fast, with every match hard fought with less goals than before. All teams have played very close and tight matches, even Thailand and Chinese Taipei have shown their progress.
An emerging power in Europe, Ukraine have had tremendous continental success in recent years. What are the reasons behind the huge achievements and rapid progress?
Futsal is very popular in my country - many people take part in this smaller football and our professional futsal league attracts a lot of viewers. Professionalism is definitely the reason for our success as all our internationals play professional futsal.
How did you start your futsal career?
Firstly I played football in my childhood as many other boys. In 1995 I started playing futsal, joining Ukrainian giants Lokomo Kiev. I made so rapid progress that four years ago I moved to Russian champions Dina. Last year Spartak Shelkovo, currently third in Russian league, signed me.
At the age of 29, how long are you going to continue your career as a futsal player?
Experience is important for a futsal player, but stamina and physical energy are also essential. I think as long as I am in my good form and needed by my club and my country, I will carry on.
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