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Bated breath as BATE reach for a star

Published: Friday 31 October 2008, 14.00CET
FC BATE Borisov can add another star to an already shimmering season today as they look to seal the Belarussian championship against FC Torpedo Zhodino with Aleksandr Volodko keen to "win the title in Borisov".
by Denis Orlov
from Minsk
Bated breath as BATE reach for a star
BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 31 October 2008, 14.00CET

Bated breath as BATE reach for a star

FC BATE Borisov can add another star to an already shimmering season today as they look to seal the Belarussian championship against FC Torpedo Zhodino with Aleksandr Volodko keen to "win the title in Borisov".
UEFA Champions League contenders FC BATE Borisov can add another star to an already shimmering season today as they look to seal the Belarussian championship against FC Torpedo Zhodino with midfielder Aleksandr Volodko eager to "win the title in Borisov".

Star looming
Four points ahead of second-placed FC Dinamo Minsk with four matches still to play, and two games in hand on all of their putative title rivals, BATE effectively have three chances to reatain the crown. Should they take any of those opportunities, they would become only the second Belarussian side, alongside Dinamo, to earn the right to put a star on their badge as five-time champions.

First priority
BATE take on FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the UEFA Champions League next week with a great chance of keeping their European campaign going into 2009, but the prospect of celebrations at home has put that Group H game to the bottom of the players' agenda. "The coaches always remind us that BATE have won all four of their gold medals away from home," said Volodko. "We want to give our fans a gift and win the title in Borisov. We'll think about the Zenit match later."

Darida diminished

While BATE are preparing for celebrations, at the other end of the table FC Darida Zhdanovchi are preparing for the worst. The league's bottom club are already resigned to relegation, having fallen a long way since briefly being among the top contenders for the 2006 title – which BATE eventually won to start what could yet be a run of three successive crowns.

Baidachny experiment
The following season they appointed Russian disciplinarian Anatoli Baidachny as their coach with a view to a title charge but he was dismissed after eight games by chairman Vladimir Delendik, who said: "The coach humiliated the players and there were disagreements between the coach and the team." Baidachny responded: "When I came there were just three players left. And I persuaded them to stay."

Final curtain
Darida eventually finished 13th, but there was to be no salvation this time around, and the future looks uncertain, with Delendik having sold the club's stadium to Dinamo Minsk. After a 3-1 loss to FC Smorgon confirmed their relegation, coach Vadim Brazovsky said: "We did all we could. The boys fought until the end." The concern now is that this really is the end for Darida.

Last updated: 31/10/08 14.39CET

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