Less than a week before their finals debut, Aleksandr Sarkisyan stepped up to replace Sergio Benatti as Iberia Star Tbilisi coach and he speaks to UEFA.com about the hosts' hopes.
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With less than a week to go until their first UEFA Futsal Cup finals, Iberia Star Tbilisi changed coach as Sergio Benatti returned to his native Brazil and his assistant Aleksandr Sarkisyan stepped up to a helm he had already occupied twice in addition to his stellar playing career. As Iberia Star now prepare to face MFK Dinamo on home territory in Friday's semi-final, Sarkisyan spoke to UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: Iberia Star are in their maiden UEFA Futsal Cup finals. What can we expect from the team?
Aleksandr Sarkisyan: Whichever competition we play in, we always play to win. Especially as we are playing at our home ground and we know that a full house will get behind us. We will do our best to make the fans happy but we do not feel any pressure. They are our sixth player, our small privilege that we will try to use to our benefit.
UEFA.com: You succeeded Benatti just several days ago. Are you going to make any changes at such an important moment?
Sarkisyan: Benatti is one of the best futsal coaches in the world. He won a UEFA Futsal Cup with Action 21 [Charleroi] and this fact alone tells you how strong he is as a professional. Of course I learned a lot from him as his assistant. I will hardly change anything now. The only thing is, I will try to give the players more freedom on the court. Benatti was directing the game like he had a remote control in his hands. I will give the lads more right to improvise.
UEFA.com: You won another domestic title a week ago. You hardly have any competition in Georgia, so how does this affect your performances in Europe?
Sarkisyan: Yes, we won the Georgian league again last week. Frankly, not all [Georgian clubs] can compete with us but every game is better than training. Even those games when we win 10-0 or sometimes even 20-0 are more useful to players than just training sessions. But it is difficult to switch from such games to matches against the top Spanish or Russian sides who get 50 intense games a year.
UEFA.com: What can you say about the other semi-finalists?
Sarkisyan: Barcelona are a mix of the world's best two teams, Spain and Brazil. Dinamo are composed of the best Russian internationals and a handful of Brazilians. Kairat are strong too. But international games give us all the skills we need to compete against such quality. Regardless of how the finals end for us, I believe Iberia Star have already contributed to futsal's development and popularity in Georgia.