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Mehmedi eager to shake up Ukrainian title race

Published: Thursday 5 April 2012, 16.56CET
With Saturday's showdown with FC Shakhtar Donetsk fast approaching, Admir Mehmedi told UEFA.com that a win for FC Dynamo Kyiv will mean "having the title virtually in the bag".
by Bogdan Buga
from Kyiv
Mehmedi eager to shake up Ukrainian title race
Admir Mehmedi unleashes a shot for Dynamo Kyiv ©Olexandr Zadiraka

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Published: Thursday 5 April 2012, 16.56CET

Mehmedi eager to shake up Ukrainian title race

With Saturday's showdown with FC Shakhtar Donetsk fast approaching, Admir Mehmedi told UEFA.com that a win for FC Dynamo Kyiv will mean "having the title virtually in the bag".

He has only been in the country for three months, but FC Dynamo Kyiv forward Admir Mehmedi already understands the significance of Saturday's top-of-the-table clash with FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Three points separate the sides with five games of the Ukrainian Premier League left, so a win at the Donbass Arena and "the title will virtually be in the bag".

A win, though, would be a giant step towards the title, as we are unlikely to drop six points in the four remaining matches
Admir Mehmedi
I'm glad I decided to join Dynamo; if I can help them become champions in my first year it would be fantastic
Admir Mehmedi

"It will be a very important game for both teams," Mehmedi told UEFA.com. "We have had a great season, but we still only have three points on Shakhtar. A win, though, would be a giant step towards the title, as we are unlikely to drop six points in the four remaining matches. If we win, the title will virtually be in the bag. However, draw or lose and everything will still be open – anything could happen."

Mehmedi completed his move to FC Dynamo Kyiv from FC Zürich in January, but despite being new to Ukrainian football the 21-year-old recognises the significance of the Shakhtar derby. "All games are important but this one is really special," he said. "Everybody is talking about it.

"We are 12 and nine points clear of FC Metalist Kharkiv respectively, while fourth-placed FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk are over 20 points behind. So it is a meeting of Ukraine's two best sides. All I know about Shakhtar is that they are a good team with many Brazilians and a very generous president [Rinat Akhmetov]."

Born in what is now the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mehmedi emigrated to Switzerland when he was two. He joined AC Bellinzona before switching to FC Winterthur and then FC Zürich in 2006. His 11 appearances in his debut campaign − all from the bench – helped Zürich win the 2008/09 Swiss title; he struck ten goals the following season as Zürich finished runners-up. Since moving to Dynamo, the Switzerland international has scored once in five league appearances.

A powerfully-built striker, Mehmedi is blessed with searing pace and comes to life in the penalty area, but for Dynamo he is deployed as one of three attacking midfielders in support of lone striker Ideye Brown. "I enjoy playing in all these positions," added Mehmedi. "We want to play fast, technical football. I've only been here three months, and it's only natural that I need some time. It's not always easy but I think it will come and hopefully one day they will say that I am a real Dynamo player.

"The most important thing is that [coach] Yuri Semin trusts me and I want to repay him with many goals, assists and victories," Mehmedi added in English, one of five languages he speaks fluently. He is now attempting to learn number six. "Sometimes, it's difficult because the coach speaks Russian, but it's no longer a big problem as I understand more every day.

"If there are any special instructions for me, as there were for our the last game against FC Chornomorets Odesa, assistant coach Serhiy Rebrov explains it to me in English. I can always ask some of the other English-speaking players or even Andriy Shevchenko in Italian too."

A 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship runner-up with Switzerland, Mehmedi is now targeting club honours. "Luckily, I'm the sort of person who adapts very well. I've moved many times, although this is the first time I've lived alone. At the beginning it was strange to speak so many languages but still not understand anything around me. Now I understand more, I know the city better and I like it a lot. I'm glad I decided to join Dynamo; if I can help them become champions in my first year it would be fantastic."

Last updated: 25/04/12 16.48CET

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