The only member of the Kazakhstan national team to play abroad, goalkeeper David Loria hopes his decision to join Russian club PFC Spartak Nalchik will pay off in the long run.
Back in favour
The 27-year-old is already the former Soviet republic's most-capped goalkeeper, yet recent months have been less than easy for the 35-times international. After German trainer Bernd Storck replaced Dutchman Arno Pijpers as Kazakhstan coach, Loria initially found himself sidelined, although he returned to contention when invited to a training camp in February.
The upheaval followed his decision in January to try his luck with Spartak Nalchik in Russia's top flight, Loria having spent the 2008 season on home ground at FC Shakhtyor Karagandy. He may be waiting for his Nalchik debut, but his nerve is holding. "I wanted to test myself at a new level," he said. "Some make a name for themselves immediately, some need more time or a chance to shine. I'm in good shape and ready to impress."
'A fair man'
A strict limit of six foreign players per team in the Premier-Liga has not helped Loria's cause, and he has been linked with a loan move back to FC Lokomotiv Astana, but he is not about to panic. "Spartak coach Yury Krasnozhan is a fair man and everybody is equal in the squad," he said. Even so, a switch to Kazakhstan's Premier League need not represent a major setback in career terms. "The Russian championship is stronger but our league is not as weak as people might think," he stressed. "Lokomotiv Astana, Aktobe and Tobol Kostanay would all be good enough to do well in Russia."
Loria is definitely back in Kazakhstan next week for a 1 April FIFA World Cup qualifier against Belarus, with both sides eager to keep pace with Group 6 frontrunners England, Croatia and Ukraine. "I play with Belarus's Artem Kontsevoi at Spartak and we have discussed the game," he said. "We respect each other, but if Kazakhstan play like we can, our fans will have something to celebrate."
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