A challenger in every tournament they enter, Russia have not won a senior national team trophy since the first UEFA European Futsal Championship of 1999. They will aim to put that right in Croatia this time around, and 38-year-old coach Sergei Skorovich, who last month gave up his other role of leading 2008 UEFA Futsal Cup winners MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg to concentrate on Russia's campaign, is certainly ambitious.
UEFA.com: What goals have you set for Russia in Croatia?
Sergei Skorovich: We haven't come out and announced our targets but everyone understands we are ambitious. A country and a team like ours should always aim for the highest goals, which is at least progressing to the final.
UEFA.com: Russia are in Group C with Italy and Turkey. What are Italy's strengths?
Skorovich: They are without doubt one of the continent's best teams and need no advertising. Two Italian clubs made the UEFA Futsal Cup elite round, while Italy were European champions in 2003 – their results speak for themselves. Italy underperformed at the last EURO, probably because they underestimated their opponents, but I am sure they will come to Croatia with a different approach.
UEFA.com: Turkey are EURO debutants. What do you know of them?
Skorovich: I won't go into details at the moment. They are a new team that are making their first steps. But given the rich history of Turkish football, we should treat Turkish futsal with respect too. All the national teams in Europe have learned how to play futsal these days.
UEFA.com: Who are EURO favourites and why?
Skorovich: Reigning champions Spain are favourites for any competition they enter. They are the iron horse of European futsal. They almost always qualify for the final and as a rule win it.
UEFA.com: How has European futsal changed since the last major international competitions?
Skorovich: Futsal obviously makes progress. It is developing and UEFA is doing much for its growth. For example, more and more clubs participate in the UEFA Futsal Cup. We all have to make our sport more popular, for both men and women. Futsal is a dynamic game that attracts fans.
UEFA.com: You won the UEFA Futsal Cup with Ekaterinburg. Is that the high point of your career?
Skorovich: I would put it like this: it was one of the nicest moments. But I am sure there are more ahead for me. I have experienced not only big victories but also painful defeats and it is important to look for positives in them too. That way you get stronger.
UEFA.com: What did you learn from Ekaterinburg's triumph and will you be able to put that knowledge into practice in Croatia?
Skorovich: It was a new high for me, an unconquered peak which made the win even more special. It was also very emotional. I am quite young for a coach and that experience drives me to work even harder in order to win again and again. The feeling you get when you claim a big trophy is comparable to a birth of a child. To hold the cup knowing how much you suffered for the victory is unique. A hurricane of emotions!
UEFA.com: Russia won in 1999 but not since – what has stopped them?
Skorovich: There are lots of strong futsal teams in Europe today. Sometimes we did not have the luck, sometimes it was just circumstances. But now Russia can rise to be European champions again. We have everything we need for that: great players, a strong national league. We will give everything to get the result we want.
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