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Season review: Belarus

Published: Tuesday 10 November 2009, 16.05CET
FC BATE Borisov stole the headlines with their fourth title on the trot but there was also a cup victory for FC Naftan Novopolotsk, a new record scorer and a prodigious 19-year-old talent in the Vysshaya Liga.
by Denis Orlov
from Minsk
Season review: Belarus
BATE have now won four successive titles ©Sportsfile
Published: Tuesday 10 November 2009, 16.05CET

Season review: Belarus

FC BATE Borisov stole the headlines with their fourth title on the trot but there was also a cup victory for FC Naftan Novopolotsk, a new record scorer and a prodigious 19-year-old talent in the Vysshaya Liga.

FC BATE Borisov stole the headlines with their fourth title on the trot but there was also a cup victory for FC Naftan Novopolotsk, a new record scorer and a prodigious 19-year-old talent in a Vysshaya Liga that will be cut from 14 teams to 12 next term.

Champions: FC BATE Borisov
BATE's fourth successive league title, and sixth overall, moved them to within one of FC Dinamo Minsk's total of seven. Finishing 12 points clear of second, they showed themselves to be the best in every department, winning the most games (19), losing the fewest (2), scoring the most goals (55) and conceding the fewest (16). "The joy of winning does not deaden with the years," said club chairman Anatoli Kapski.

Cup final: FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk 1-2 FC Naftan Novopolotsk
Leading through then all-time Vysshaya Liga top scorer Valeri Stripeikis's strike three minutes before half-time, Naftan looked to be heading for a straightforward maiden cup triumph until Shakhtyor drew level with only two minutes left through Sergei Kovalchuk. Naftan's Dmitri Verkhovtsov responded in extra time, however, before they survived two Shakhtyor efforts that hit the woodwork to claim a UEFA Europa League qualifying berth and a first taste of European football.

Player of the Year: Sergei Krivets (FC BATE Borisov)
The 23-year-old midfielder showed his credentials as both a scorer and creator of goals, finding the net 14 times himself and assisting on nine occasions for his team-mates, subsequently earning a place in Bernd Stange's Belarus squad. "I would be lying if I said that I did not care about how many I score," he said. "But I never think about certain numbers. I just want to score more goals and make more assists and my team to win all the time."

One to watch: Maksim Skavysh (FC BATE Borisov)
Having featured for BATE just 16 times prior to this campaign, Skavysh was the season's real revelation. Not 20 until 13 November, he made 24 league appearances for the champions, scoring 12 goals in the process to announce himself in the Belarussian top flight.

Surprise package: FC Dnepr-Transmash Mogilev
Dnepr were tipped to be among those fighting for survival but defied the doubters to finish third, thus securing a UEFA Europa League berth. What Andrei Skorobogatko's men lacked in skill, they more than made up for with a strong will and team spirit. "We are not ready to represent our country in Europe yet," said club captain Evguenni Kapov. "We have to be stronger. Yes, we have enough talanted young players but the UEFA Europa League is a competition on another level than the Belarus league."

Leading scorer: Maycon Calijuri, FC Gomel (15)

Number: 172
FC Dinamo Brest striker Roman Vasilyuk struck the opener in his side's final-day 2-0 victory over Naftan to take his all-time Belarussian top-flight tally to 172, one better than long-time leading marksman Stripeikis.

Quote
"Unfortunately we did not make it to the European cups. My eleven-year-long epic of coaching sides in European club tournaments has been broken. I pray to God it's only for one year."
FC Dinamo Brest head coach Yuri Puntus, formerly of Belarus, BATE and FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk.

Last updated: 10/11/09 19.56CET

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