The only Belarusian side to have won the Soviet Top League – in 1982 – and indeed to have even featured in that premier division during the USSR era, FC Dinamo Minsk are eager to steal back some of the limelight after a decade in the shade.
Without a domestic title since 2004, Dinamo have seen FC BATE Borisov take command of the Belarus scene, winning the last eight championships, but this season it is Dinamo who lead the Premier League while simultaneously progressing in Europe. Last week's 1-0 home victory against UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stage regulars CFR 1907 Cluj was a fair measure of the class Vladimir Zhuravel's team have shown so far.
If their single-goal lead looks a little fragile as Dinamo head to Romania for Thursday's decider, scorer Nenad Adamović is remarkably confident his side's European adventure will continue. "It's so nice that we didn't concede," said the Serbian midfielder. "The game showed we are capable of competing with CFR and we will try to win the second leg too. I don't really think my goal will be the decisive one. The chances are no longer equal – it's 80-20 in our favour."
Dinamo might have scored more in the first leg, and defender Oleg Veretilo hopes they will not end up ruing those misses. "It would have been better if we had scored one more," he noted. "But it's good that we found the net and didn't concede. That will help us."
The return fixture will certainly be a test of Zhuravel's mettle. Now 43, the former midfielder and defender lifted six national titles as a Dinamo player in the 1990s before returning to the club this term for the first time as a coach following a spell managing FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk. His team are going great guns in the domestic league, boasting eight straight victories, and have also yet to concede in three European games – including the second qualifying round triumph over Finland's Myllykosken Pallo-47.
On 13 August, they have a crucial Premier League match against second-placed BATE, yet with the UEFA Europa League group stage a realistic prospect, Dinamo may be wary of spreading themselves too thin. Zhuravel, though, refused to be drawn on his side's priorities. "There's no point talking about our goals for the season – they're the highest possible, especially in the league."
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