FC BATE Borisov's away win against LOSC Lille may have been a big surprise for much of Europe, but it certainly was not for Belarus.
Before travelling to France, the BATE players and coaching staff boldly declared, in all seriousness, they were going to bring something back – and more likely three points than one. How did they get such confidence and courage? I believe it is the head coach who inspired them as Viktor Goncharenko is an optimist by nature.
I have always thought that a team's character depends on its coach. In other words, tell me who your coach is and I'll tell you what your team is about. Goncharenko led BATE to the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in 2008 when he was just 31. Now he is 35, but he is still the youngest among the competition's 32 coaches this season.
The main strengths of Goncharenko are his earnestness and sense of purpose. His modus operandi reminds me a lot of the legendary Valeriy Lobanovsky. Let me even call Goncharenko the 'Belarusian Lobanovsky'. He builds his team step by step. If BATE's qualification for the group stage was considered a surprise in 2008, it is now thought of as routine. And it won't be too long before BATE reach the knockout stage.
Do you remember how Lobanovsky – who enjoyed confidence in his home club just as Goncharenko does – led FC Dynamo Kyiv to big wins after years of stagnation? It's a good example for the Borisov side to follow – there is nothing impossible in football.
In addition, Goncharenko has the honour of serving under a noble chief, club president Anatoly Kapsky, the man who brought BATE back into being just 16 years ago. Goncharenko can rely on Kapsky to take care of the things which monopolise the time and thoughts of his colleagues at other clubs and focus solely on making BATE regular fixtures at the sharp end of European club football.
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