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Dinamo in dark about Iberia Star

Faustino Pérez admits MFK Dinamo are in the dark about semi-final rivals Iberia Star Tbilisi, who have changed their coach and much of their squad ahead of Friday's tie.

Faustino Pérez (left) and Aleksandr Sarkisyan pose with the trophy ahead of their semi-final at the Tbilisi Palace of Sport
Faustino Pérez (left) and Aleksandr Sarkisyan pose with the trophy ahead of their semi-final at the Tbilisi Palace of Sport ©Sportsfile

Faustino Pérez admits MFK Dinamo are somewhat in the dark about UEFA Futsal Cup hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi ahead of Friday's opening semi-final in the Georgian capital.

Spaniard Pérez led Playas de Castellón FS to victory in this event in 2001/02 and 2002/03, and last season was in charge when 2006/07 champions Dinamo lost the final to FC Barcelona in Lleida. Iberia Star, expected to be cheered on by a close to 10,000-capacity crowd, are at this stage for the first time having entered every previous edition of the competition – but much has changed since they knocked out SL Benfica in the elite round here in October.

New signings since then have included highly rated Serbian international Marko Perić and Brazilians Fabinho, Marcel Ribeiro and Kumano, plus former footballer Gaga Tibilashvili. And last week coach Sergio Benatti left to be replaced by his assistant, Aleksandr Sarkisyan.

"We don't have much information about our opponents," said Pérez. "Before thinking about winning the trophy, we must focus on Friday's match. If we win, then we can start thinking about winning the trophy."

The Russian club's coach, who has goalkeeper Gustavo suspended, added: "I have watched all Iberia's friendly matches in Russia, but they have changed a lot in recent weeks. I have seen the game against Benfica too and also some league highlights. I don't know a lot about their new signings."

Sarkisyan, a former Iberia player who has been on the coaching staff for five years and twice before was in charge, said: "I took the helm just ten days ago but I have been working at Iberia Star for ages. Of course I could not change anything in such a short time so we just made small corrections.

"We had some changes to the squad. Brazilian players Bruno Melo, Romario, Betinho and Roninho left after the elite round and moved to Ukraine. We brought in Marcel Ribeiro, Fabinho and Kumano instead of them, and four days ago Marko Perić who played in Russia and for Serbia joined us too.

"We play for the fans and we welcome them to the Palace of Sport tomorrow. I regard Dinamo as a strong team since they were last year's finalists, but despite that I assess our chances as even. I really hope that the crowd will see a great match tomorrow."

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