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Minsk titans hanker for former glories

Published: Friday 3 October 2008, 18.46CET
A UEFA Champions League group stage game was played at the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk for the first time this week, but not by FC Dinamo Minsk, who are looking to end a lean period since being the toast of Belarus.
by Denis Orlov
from Minsk
Minsk titans hanker for former glories
New Dinamo Minsk coach Slavoljub Muslin ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 3 October 2008, 18.46CET

Minsk titans hanker for former glories

A UEFA Champions League group stage game was played at the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk for the first time this week, but not by FC Dinamo Minsk, who are looking to end a lean period since being the toast of Belarus.
A UEFA Champions League group stage game was played at the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk for the first time this week, but not by FC Dinamo Minsk, who are looking to end a lean period since being the toast of Belarus.

Barren spell
While FC BATE Borisov have taken centre stage in the former Soviet republic with their flying start to Europe's top club competition, Dinamo are in the doldrums, with just one title in the last 12 years. That success under Yuri Shukanov was a rare break from disappointment for the capital side, who won six of the first seven Belarussian titles after independence.

Soviet peak
The club's most famous achievements date back to the days of the USSR, finishing third in the Soviet top division in 1963 and reaching the cup final two years later. In 1982, they reached an all-time high, winning the Soviet title, and finished third again in 1983. They also won the 1987 Soviet Cup and reached the quarter-finals of the three major UEFA club competitions in the 1980s.

Another change
Such times were a distant memory as the club finished the 2007 season in an all-time low of ninth place. Chairman of the board Yuri Chizh opted to make his 18th change of coach in just over eight years, sending former Belarus international Aleksandr Khatskevich packing and bringing in Igor Kriushenko, fresh from winning back-to-back titles with BATE.

Shock decision
Kriushenko managed to keep Dinamo among the top three in Belarus, but was dismissed with six games of the current season remaining and replaced by 55-year-old Serbian coach Slavoljub Muslin. "We have not been satisfied with how Dinamo have played recently," said Shukanov, now the club's general manager. "We did not believe they were capable of fighting for the title." Muslin, a former FK Crvena Zvezda, FC Metalurh Donetsk and FC Khimki coach, said: "I have no fear and I am confident. I can see that the board wants the team to succeed. So now our task is to finish second."

Attacking football
Dinamo drew 1-1 with FC Granit Mikashevichi in Muslin's first game in charge, but with second-placed FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk losing, they are just three points off second place with five games to go. "There is much talent in the squad," said Muslin. "We will try to play European football that is quick and attractive, a one- or two-touch game. It has to be attacking because it is the only way we can attract people to the stands."

Last updated: 03/10/08 10.07CET

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