Krash: No prizes for second place

  • RFU beat Switzerland on penalties in dramatic semi-final

  • Yury Krasheninnikov and veterans play key role

  • Krasheninnikov: My heart stopped when Stankovic missed

When there is a final at stake and nerves are jangling, it is usually the most experienced players who come to the fore. The heart-stopping FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™ semi-final between RFU and Switzerland proved no different as the hosts’ former World Cup winners took centre stage. Captain Anton Shkarin struck an equaliser at the end of normal time and defender Yury Krasheninnikov converted the decisive penalty, having opened the scoring in this most thrilling of encounters.

However, the 36-year-old’s penalty was far from convincing.

“What can I say, I didn’t strike the ball well. I was lucky the ball flicked up off the sand. But as we say in Russia: fortune favours the brave”, a beaming Krasheninnikov told “There was a time when the coach didn’t really trust me to take a penalty, but I think I’ve only ever missed one during my career. Recently, I’ve been one of the five designated penalty takers, and the coach was right!”

Mikhail Likhachev also made the right call when it came to the goalkeeper during the penalty shoot-out. Denis Parkhomenko has not played a single minute at the tournament, however he found himself in goal at the most crucial time.

“That wasn’t planned”, admits Krasheninnikov, who is known as 'Krash' by his team-mates to avoid issues with his tongue-twister of a surname. “The coach was spot on. He tends to get those decisions right.”

Fans play key role

Krash is one of the RFU’s most experienced players and is adored by fans and team-mates alike: “Krash, you’re the best!”, shouts team-mate Boris Nikonorov as Yury engages with supporters post-match.

“The fans played an important role in our victory; I want to thank them for their support”, says Krasheninnikov. “It was a tough match. The Swiss have a superb goalkeeper; Ott is also an exceptionally skilful player with great pace. You can’t give him any room as he will just run into space; it’s extremely hard to mark him. I’d watched all their matches and I was really impressed with their win over Brazil. Both sides were evenly matched.”

One of the game’s key moments came when Stankovic missed an open goal in extra time. “My heart skipped a beat”, recalls Krash. “Stankovic doesn’t usually pass up those opportunities. But we believed right until the end that we could win.”

Despite the drama of the semi-final, Yury is calmness personified: “I don’t feel any emotions. We did a great job tonight, but we’ve got a final to play. That’s when the emotions will kick in.”

The hosts will face Japan in the final. “Only one of us can be crowned champions, and we have to make sure it’s us; there are no prizes for second place.”