- Illia Savich made history for Belarus in Paraguay
- After the win against UAE, he spoke exclusively to FIFA.com
- He expects the team to relax following their debut
“I can’t remember the last time I felt so nervous,” said Illia Savich, the scorer of Belarus’s first ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup goal, happily acknowledging a lack of composure on a big night for his country.
“This is our first World Cup and there were a lot of mixed emotions for us and a lot of nerves,” the 28-year-old defender told FIFA.com. “I think that’s only natural.”
That historic goal was the opener in his side’s 5-1 defeat of United Arab Emirates on Friday. Yet when asked to recall the moment, Savich admitted that his memories of it were a little hazy already.
“All I remember is having the chance to hit the ball, so I just tried to get there before anyone else,” he explained. “I’m not sure how I connected with it either. I just remember seeing it go in.”
It was a landmark goal that he celebrated with a minimum of fuss: “I felt a whole mix of things at the same time but I can’t pick one out or say if I thought of anyone in particular. I would have liked to but I had to get my head back in the game right away.”
Nor will Savich be watching his goal over and over again. “It wasn’t the prettiest,” he said, still wearing his No3 shirt. “Maybe [I'll watch it] once or twice, but that’ll be enough.”
Nicolas Alvarado, Belarus’s Spanish coach, expressed surprise at his player’s restrained reaction: “That’s what he said? Well, it didn’t look like that from where I was watching.
“He’s got this special charisma, and in standing up and taking responsibility he puts a lid on any nerves he might feel. He’s very mature for his age,” added Alvarado, who had voiced his praise for Savich in an interview with FIFA.com in September.
Identifying him as a key player in the Belarus squad, he said: “He doesn’t say an awful lot but what he does say is important. There’s a lot of respect for him among both the older and younger players. He’s like a link between the two.”
Invited to take up beach soccer in his hometown of Grodno back in 2010, Savich has been playing the game professionally since 2015. “It’s my job but I love doing it,” said the defender, the scorer of three goals in the European qualifiers.
Discussing Belarus’s immediate prospects in Paraguay, Savich said he has every respect for their next opponents, Senegal: “They played a great game against Russia and that must mean they’re a strong side.”
Focusing on what he and his team have to do, he added: “Now that we’ve won our first game, I hope we can really loosen up and play even better.”