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Starkovs opts for wise heads

Published: Saturday 29 May 2004, 23.44CET
Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs has named a 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2004™ high on experience.


Published: Saturday 29 May 2004, 23.44CET

Starkovs opts for wise heads

Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs has named a 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2004™ high on experience.

By Michael Korolev

Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs has named his 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2004™, cutting six names from his previous party.

Six miss out
Goalkeeper Andris Vanins, midfield player Vladimirs Kolesnicenko, Kristaps Blanks and Igors Semjonovs, and strikers Viktors Dobrecovs and Gatis Kalnins missed out. Kolesnicenko is the most notable, the Skonto FC playmaker paying for a disappointing domestic season.

Miholaps makes the cut
Vanins lacked match practice at FC Moskva, while teenagers Blanks and Semjonovs have lost out to more experienced men. Meanwhile Kalnins and Dobrecovs were pipped by Latvia's all-time leading scorer, Mihails Miholaps.

Fitness doubts
Marians Pahars, Imants Bleidelis and Olegs Blagonadezdins are all carrying knocks and are expected to recover in time for Latvia's Group D opener against the Czech Republic on 15 June. Starkovs now takes his team to a training camp in Jurmala before a 6 June friendly against Azerbaijan.

'Difficult choice'
The coach, who saw his side beat Skonto 2-1 on Thursday in an hour-long friendly, said: "It is important to understand that we had to pick only 23 players, and we had to make a difficult choice. My assistants and I are sure about our choices, and we think we have done the right thing. My experience tells me that we normally do."

Latvia squad

Aleksandrs Kolinko (FC Rostov)
Andrejs Piedels (Skonto FC)
Andrejs Pavlovs (Skonto FC)

Igors Stepanovs (BV Beveren)
Aleksandrs Isakov (Skonto FC)
Mihails Zemlinskis (Skonto FC)
Olegs Blagonadezdins (Skonto FC)
Arturs Zakresevskis (Skonto FC)
Maris Smirnovs (FK Ventpils)
Igors Korablevs (FK Ventspils)
Dzintars Zirnis (FHK Liepajas Metalurgs)

Valentins Lobanevs (FC Metalurh Zaporizhya)
Andrejs Rubins (FC Shinnik Yaroslavl)
Vitalijs Astafjevs (VfB Admira Wacker Mödling)
Imants Bleidelis (Viborg FF)
Jurijs Laizans (PFC CSKA Moskva)
Jurgis Pucinskis (FC Luch-Energia)
Andrejs Štolcers (Fulham FC)

Maris Verpakovskis (FC Dynamo Kyiv)
Marians Pahars (Southampton FC)
Andrejs Prohorenkovs (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC)
Mihails Miholaps (Skonto FC)
Vits Rimkus (FK Ventspils)

Last updated: 31/05/04 0.02CET

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