BATE basking in elixir of youth

The spirit of youth is the standout theme in Belarus with FC BATE Borisov tyros Sergei Krivets and Maksim Skavysh leading the scoring charts and youngsters from other sides making their mark too.

BATE's Sergei Krivets is one of the club's many young stars
BATE's Sergei Krivets is one of the club's many young stars ©Sportsfile

The spirit of youth is the standout theme of this year's Vysshaya Liga so far with FC BATE Borisov tyros Sergei Krivets and Maksim Skavysh leading the scoring charts and youngsters from other sides making their mark too.

Skavysh impact
At just 19, Skavysh has led the line superbly for BATE to fill the gaping hole opened by the departures of experienced forward duo Vitali Rodionov and Gennady Bliznyuk. He has scored ten goals in 13 games with the Belarussian titleholders setting a furious pace at the top of the league. Skavysh was also on target as BATE started their attempt to return to the UEFA Champions League group stage – following last season's debut stint at Europe's top table – with a 2-0 away win against FK Makedonija Skopje in the first leg of the second qualifying round last week with the return on Tuesday.

BATE prospects
Krivets, 23, played his part in BATE's 2008 European adventure, appearing in all six group matches against continental heavyweights Real Madrid CF, Juventus and FC Zenit St. Petersburg. He tops the goalscoring rankings this year with eleven strikes and the club also have high hopes for another player who made his mark last season, midfielder Pavel Nekhaichik, recently turned 21. The champions are not the only side investing in youth though. Aleksandr Gavryushko, 23, announced himself last season with 14 goals for FC Dnepr-Transmash Mogilev before FC Dinamo Minsk snapped him up and he has started well in the capital, scoring four times and setting up three more.

National recognition
Elsewhere, central midfielder Filip Rudik is showing maturity beyond his 22 years with a series of excellent displays for Belarus Cup holders FC Naftan Novopolotsk. He has already been called up to the national team and has high ambitions, saying: "If someone [big] comes in for me, I will leave. If no one invites me, I will stay. I will never feel uncomfortable playing for Novopolotsk." FC Minsk striker Sergei Koshel has also been involved in the international set-up as the 23-year-old continues to impress, striking six times this term.

U21 controversy
Although Skavysh, Gavryushko, Rudik, Nekhaychik and Koshel have been the talk of Belarus, none participated in the recent UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The side collected just one point from their three group games, but coach Yuri Kurnenin defended his decision to leave such promising players at home. "Skavysh, for example, has only played in BATE's starting XI for a year," he said.

Different levels
"He is also the only striker at the best club in the country so it isn't a surprise he scores regularly," Kurnenin added. "Would he have been able to repeat this against Sweden, Serbia or Italy? The two levels aren't comparable. Moreover, Skavysh and Gavryushko did not play during qualification and it would have negatively affected the squad if I had brought them in." For his part, Skavysh was disappointed not to play but understood Kurnenin's thinking. "I wanted to play in Sweden very much," he said. "Maybe he considered that it's too early for me as I do have the chance to participate in the next championship."