Phoenix brought U14 Futsal Cup of Ukraine to Kharkiv. What we could not even dream of four years ago, fourteen boys made a reality today under the guidance of coaches who can think outside the box and parents who did not stop believing in their children! The 'golden' generation of the 'violets', which proved to everyone that nothing is impossible to a willing heart. Hard work goes along with that.
Last year’s finish in the top four teams of the Championship of Ukraine did not become team's utmost. Six months later, the 'benchwarmers' became the owners of one of the country's main children's trophies. Participation in the Ukrainian Championship this year in the older age category did not go to waste. The trainees of Sergey Gritsenko and Yuri Vashchenko lost one match after another at the final stage of the tournament. Still, all the discussions between the coaches and the team during long Kherson evenings (there was nowhere to go in Kherson) recalibrated boys' attitude to the philosophy of the game on the quality side. And kicked in as soon as Phoenix began to play again in its age.
Having secured access to the finals the round before the end of the group stage, the team allowed itself to play the last game of the tournament in a practice mode, while preserving the strength for the finals. Olympia-Dnipro did not have such an opportunity. The team’s theoretical chances to reach the finals involved a number of unlikely events. The maximum points for the Dnipro players in the match with Ista-DYSSH-7 and Tavria, who looked not just powerful, but, in fact, were the much fancied side before the last paired group stage round. However, even 6 points in these matches was not enough for the team of Alexander Yuzik . One had to hope that Ista, by the way, having won all previous games with a big score, and never facing any loss of points, would not gain a single point in two matches. Unlikely, right? But that is exactly what happened!
At first, Olympia swept Tavria, doing half the battle and, by the way, simplifying Phoenix's path to the finals a great deal. Our team, in its turn, beat Ista, which not only guaranteed it participation in the main match of the tournament, but also reduced the influence of external factors for Olympia to zero. Now everything was in the hands of the 'white and blues', who were supposed to determine the second finalist in the full-time match with Ista. The same as in the match with Tavria, Olympia made a comeback, only this time even more impressive, scoring a decisive ball one and a half minutes before the final whistle!
Phoenix's coaches were puzzled by that result. Ista is a strong opponent, hovewer, like many football teams, has difficulties in the game against a dense and well-organized defense. What, in fact, the group stage match showed, in which Phoenix, playing in a very disciplined way at the rear, in actual fact did not let the opponent step beyond the limit at their goal.
Olympia-Dnipro is a futsal team, tactically competent and had time to study us well enough during the previous three games. None of the matches with the Dnieper team was easy and there was never an advantage in the score by more than one goal.
Today was no different. Phoenix followed the same pattern, playing - defense first, still, thee team did not manage to survive the first half, without conceding a goal, as coaches thought. In the fourth minute of the match, Yegor Sidorenko shot a cool blow into Vladimir Lazeba's corner.
Everything went at odds with our scenario and the coaches did not manage to make adjustments. For some reason, Alexander Katsyuba interrupted the aerial pass of Dani Khodatsky to Artyom Shevchenko. The penalty kick a little closer to the center seemed harmless. But Phoenix's set play came out lovely. With two runs, the ‘violets’ disoriented the opponent’s defense, bringing Khodatsky to the shooting position. He struck great, but Daniil Kupa managed to turn the ball away. The pursuit of Mikhail Soldatenko, however, hit the target. Kharkiv 'torcida', replenished considerably on the eve of the match with a number of parents rushing up to see the finals, perked up.
Having restored the status quo, Phoenix again allowed the opponent to play as favorite, allowing no more major mistakes in the defense. Both teams were careful, realizing the price of an error.
The second half was held in the same manner. The play was equal. On Phoenix's side Artyom Shevchenko, who lost the breakaway, Vanya Konkov, Sasha Bezruk could have scored. Maxim Karagot could have tipped the scales in favor of the Dnieper team twice. Especially dangerous was his shot at the very end of the match, when the ball miraculously missed Laseba's goalposts. The last minutes dragged on painfully slowly and naturally led to a series of penalty shoot-outs. Alexander Yuzik made s decision to sub Daniel Kupa, who showed brilliant play throughout the whole match, for Maxim Karagota, apparently counting on his impressive physique. That was the time for game of chicken to begin.
Artyom Shevchenko delivered a great shot right under the cross-bar. Alexander Katsyuba maturely sent the ball directly to the top corner of the net. Daniil Khodatsky - strongly in the center, and the ball flew into the net off the hands of the goalie. And then there was the save of Vova Lazeba after Maxim Karagot's shot and the cold-blooded 'golden' shot of Vanya Konkov, who fell into the arms of his teammates.
Phoenix bring to Kharkiv one of the most dreamt of children futsal trophies. On top of that there are prizes to Vanya Konkov, as the best tournament player, and Artyom Shevchenko - as the best player for Phoenix.
Today's final will be remembered not only for the cup, medals and individual prizes. But also a heartwarming meeting of parents and kids from our younger team in Kharkiv. Our six-year-old footballers, who had been cheering so for the elders all these four days, got the opportunity to be photographed with the Cup, dreaming of the day when they will win theirs.