It would take the greatest comeback in any European tie for Zvezda-2005 to overturn a 6-0 deficit at FCR 2001 Duisburg in the second leg of the final on Friday night but Nataliya Zinchenko knows there is still pride to play for.
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It would take the greatest comeback in any European tie for Zvezda-2005 to overturn a 6-0 deficit at FCR 2001 Duisburg in the second leg of the UEFA Women's Cup final on Friday night but captain Nataliya Zinchenko knows there is still pride to play for.
Russian champions Zvezda began their debut European campaign in the first qualifying round in September, and were the only side left from that stage by the quarter-finals. Zvezda had already beaten holders 1. FFC Frankfurt by that point and in the knockout phase ousted Brøndby IF and two-time winners Umeå IK to leave themselves with a competition record of nine victories and a draw. That unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt in Kazan last Saturday but Zinchenko wants to prove that result was an aberration.
"Of course after last week the atmosphere is not the greatest," the Ukraine striker told uefa.com. "But we are still highly motivated to show that there were just some misunderstandings during the last game. It was an exception, not the rule. There were tactical mistakes and it was very hard to take to get so far and lose. Emotionally it has been a bit overwhelming to work through."
Nonetheless, Zinchenko is full of praise for their hosts on Friday, saying after a run that included meetings with the likes of 2008 finalists Frankfurt and Umeå: "Duisburg are the strongest team we have ever played." However, Zvezda do not intend to make life easy for FCR in front of a crowd of at least 22,000 at the MSV Arena. "We didn't succeed in Kazan but we have prepared hard and will ensure the game is not boring," Zinchenko said. "We will have a different attitude."
What will also be different will be the identity of the Zvezda coach, with Aleksandr Grigoryan having brought forward his resignation after the first leg, leaving club stalwart Stanislav Kharitonov in caretaker charge. "He is not a new coach but more a temporary solution as he is the team manager and in two days not a lot can change," Zinchenko said. "He knows the club very well, he knows us, he knows our tactics, he knows our personalities."