A year ago Sergei Sergeev missed a late chance to equalise for FC Dynamo in the final against Kairat Almaty; he talks to UEFA.com as the teams meet in Thursday's semi.
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After two successive UEFA Futsal Cup final defeats, FC Dynamo will aim to reach a third straight decider on Thursday in Baku against the side that beat them 12 months ago in Tbilisi – Kairat Almaty.
Russia defender Sergei Sergeev was in his European debut campaign last term after joining from MFK CSKA Moskva, and scored in the final but missed a chance to deny Kairat a 4-3 victory late on. Seeking to help Dynamo to the title after a pair of final losses, just as in 2007, the 30-year-old Sergeev spoke to UEFA.com about Dynamo's bid.
UEFA.com: What does playing in the UEFA Futsal Cup mean to you?
Sergei Sergeev: It is a big honour to play in a tournament as big as the UEFA Futsal Cup, both for the club, which always sets big goals for itself, and for me personally.
UEFA.com: What is the atmosphere like at the final tournament?
Sergeev: Usually, UEFA Futsal Cup matches attract many fans, especially during the finals. It's very nice to play in front of full stands; a big crowdgives you extra energy and you try to play even better.
UEFA.com: What would it mean to you to get your hands on the trophy?
Sergeev: Any futsal or football player that wants to get to the top of the game has to win major trophies. The UEFA Futsal Cup is definitely one of them. We don't just care about Dynamo – we are defending the honour of Russian futsal. Our country will be represented by two clubs next year, not just one, if we win the trophy. We want to bring the UEFA Futsal Cup back to Russia.
UEFA.com: Do you often think about how close you came to scoring an equaliser against Kairat in the final last year?
Sergeev: Yes, these thoughts come to my mind from time to time. We had chances to win that match. Also I remember the goal I scored – we were losing 1-0, but then I scored an equaliser. That was a great feeling, but unfortunately we lost in the end.
UEFA.com: What have Dynamo learned from that experience?
Sergeev: That we should give more respect to any opponent we have in the UEFA finals. Everybody probably thought we would win and play against Barcelona in the final. We spent a lot of time analysing their performances and, unfortunately, did not prepare that well for Kairat. We were punished for that.
UEFA.com: What are the strengths of this Dynamo side?
Sergeev: There are many strong individuals within our squad who play for their national teams – Russia and Brazil. But we are not perfect and we need to improve in some areas.
UEFA.com: Do Russian sides have an advantage at all in being used to 50-minute matches in your league, compared with the 40 minutes in international tournaments?
Sergeev: It is a big bonus for us as it makes things physically easier for us in European matches, but we can also easily lose concentration a bit at times. If you play in Russia, you have more time to correct your mistakes than in Europe.
UEFA.com: What are Tino Pérez's strengths as a coach?
Sergeev: He is a good psychologist and he cares a lot about the atmosphere in the dressing room. He is a great coach, but he only gets good results with the help of the club's board and players. He would never be such a great coach without our help.