Having been moments away from winning their second European title in 2012, Russia coach Sergei Skorovich is keen to take "one more step" in Antwerp as he told UEFA.com.
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Fifteen years have passed since Russia won the UEFA European Futsal Championship, but having come within seconds of claiming another title in 2012 before a late equaliser and extra-time defeat by Spain, coach Sergei Skorovich is keen to take "one more step" as he told UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: Russia played in the final two years ago. Does this mean that only the title will suffice in Belgium?
Sergei Skorovich: Every team in the world wants to win. We definitely want to play in the final. Last time we were close to winning, but lost to Spain in extra time. We will try all we can to take one more step.
UEFA.com: How are the squad shaping up?
Skorovich: We don't have any problems, which is pleasing. But the Russian league is continuing until our training camp [starting Monday]. So it's still possible somebody will pick up an injury. I hope we can avoid injuries – I would like all my players fit because it will give me options.
UEFA.com: How much has the team changed since the last EURO? Are they stronger now?
Skorovich: It's difficult to say whether they are stronger or weaker. That will be decided by results, not by coaches or players. The core is the same as it was at the 2012 finals, but we have some newcomers as well. Let's see how we play and then we can compare.
UEFA.com: What can you say about the other teams in Group B, Portugal and Netherlands?
Skorovich: Portugal have one of the best teams in Europe. Everybody respects them. They also have big ambitions and it will be interesting to play them. We also know the Netherlands as we met them in the qualifying group three years ago. With very good technique, they are a tough team. We won 2-0 but they made it difficult for us. Furthermore, our Under-21s played the Dutch in a four-nation tournament last summer – we won but scored only one goal, which shows how hard the match was. However, we will play to win every match regardless of our opponents.
UEFA.com: You called Spain the undisputed leaders of European futsal. Has your opinion changed?
Skorovich: Spain are still the best, not least because they are European champions. Of course they are favourites. But many teams would like to move them from the top of the hill, to end their hegemony. Italy, Portugal, Russia and certain others are contenders. This is futsal and it's not predictable. Every team has its secrets.
UEFA.com: Nikolai Pereverzev was appointed captain last October. Why did you choose him?
Skorovich: After the 2012 [FIFA Futsal] World Cup a new chapter began in our team's history. Our previous captain Sergei Sergeev is a very decent player, but the time came to change something. Nikolai Pereverzev has proved himself a true leader and his mentality allows him to be captain.
UEFA.com: Russia have never lost in Belgium, with seven wins and three draws. Is that relevant?
Skorovich: Statistics are a good thing, but coaches and players don't think about numbers. For example, if we lose to Spain for 15 successive matches, we will still do everything to win the 16th.
UEFA.com: Will there be many Russia fans in Antwerp?
Skorovich: We expect massive support. The fans bring us emotions and the strength to win. We feel that and will try to respond to their expectations.