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Artem Milevskiy may feel immense pride at captaining FC Dynamo Kyiv in a UEFA Champions League game for the first time, but the 24-year-old is confident the honour will not distract him when the Ukrainian titleholders play host to Russian counterparts FC Rubin Kazan.
Milevskiy was made skipper by Valeri Gazzaev for the new season and on Wednesday he will wear the armband in a meeting between the league leaders of Ukraine and Russia. "Of course, my new role makes me feel some new emotions, but I have played so many games at the highest level that I can rein in my nerves," Milevskiy said. "Moreover, I hope the fans will help me. I would like to ask them to support us as much as they can. We will do our best to thank them for that by winning the game."
Fervent support can always be relied upon when Dynamo take on Russian opposition, although Milevskiy claims: "It's more likely that our fans are just excited because of the start of a new season in the Champions League." Nevertheless, he is aware of Dynamo's perfect UEFA Champions League home record against Russian clubs, beating FC Spartak Moskva in 1994/95 and last season's third qualifying round, as well as FC Lokomotiv Moskva in 2003/04. "We must stick to tradition and win," said Milevskiy. "Rubin are very strong, especially away from home. But our fans are demanding victory from us, so only three points will do."
The Belarus-born Ukrainian international has been on Dynamo's books since 2000, and even before being handed the captaincy he was harbouring the burden of being considered their greatest striking prospect since Andriy Shevchenko, who he will now partner up front after the 32-year-old's return. However, Milevskiy warned: "Don't forget that Rubin have their own formidable duo – Aleksandr Bukharov and Alejandro Domínguez. Their understanding on the pitch is perfect."
Special for Semak
Behind them will be Rubin midfielder Sergei Semak, who cannot wait to return to a competition he last graced in 2004 with PFC CSKA Moskva. "I really missed the Champions League; I remember my games at this level at CSKA Moskva, and now I want to succeed here with Rubin," Semak said. "For me, it's a very special game. I was born in Ukraine, and my parents still live here. My father and brother will come to support me at the stadium."
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