Sillamäe Kalev are about to take their third European campaign, the second in a row.
Considering the draw (they were paired with Hajduk Split from Croatia), a long run is unlikely. After all, it happened only once in their history: last season at their second appearance when they eliminated FC Honka (FIN) at extra time on away goals. In the round after, they were whitewashed on aggregate by Russian powerhouse FK Krasnodar (9-0).
In their 6 games in Europe, Sillamäe have won only once (2-1 at home against Honka) and lost the other 5 confrontations (including the return with the Finnish side in Honka, 3-2 for the home team after extra time).
After the team lost their top-scorer, Evgeni Kabaev and the club’s president changed another coach, the future in Europe does not look rosy.
One of the most positive things about Sillamäe is that the defensive line has not changed much.
The captain Andrei Sidorenkov is still mastering the left back and the defensive couple is still made up by ‘The Igors’: Igor Cheminava and Igor Dudarev.
With Aleksandr Volodin joining forces with FC Infonet in Winter, the right back role has been given alternatively to returning Lithuanian, Marius Cinikas and to his country fellow, Mindaugas Baguźis.
Tihhon Śiśov, brought from Nõmme Kalju, has been sitting mostly on the bench.
Even with the change of coach (former Zenit player, Deniss Ugarov, replaced Russian coach Sergei Frantsev), the midfield protection is guaranteed by Deniss Tjapkin (tall and physically overwhelming) and Deniss Vnukov.
The new coach has brought a different method of work and also excluded some players from the starting XI: Daniil Ratnikov (the fantasista endowed with flair but also with lack of consistency) and Aleksandr Dubõkin. It all happened with the chairman’s endorsement, however it shall be mentioned that his son, Mihhail Starodubtsev, it has been and is likely to continue to be the starting goalkeeper. The president’s son alternates good saves with incredible blunders.
With 13 goals suffered, Sillamäe are so far the third best defence with Levadia.
4-2-3-1 is the same formation used by Frantsev. Under this point of view, Ugarov did not introduce anything extremely new. Kyriylo Silich, Ukrainian attacking midfielder, took Ratnikov’s place behind the striker and former Nõmme Kalju, Janar Toomet, takes the right flank. Striker Aleksandr Volkov can play on the left side with Jaroslav Kvasov inheriting Kabaev’s role.
he young Ukrainian (1992), is Sillamäe’s topscorer (11 goals) just one goal behind the Premium Liiga leader. Can he prove he is prolific also in Europe?
- In season 2013 they finished 3rd excluding FC Flora (one of the two most-titled Estonian club) from European cups for the first time in 20 years (Flora had a streak of 20 participations in a row since 1994).
- Their home stadium is Sillamäe Kalev Stadium, however it is not adequate for European ties. Sillamäe will play Hajduk Spilt in Rakvere town (92km from Tallinn, the capital) in the local City Stadium.
- The club was founded in 1958 during Soviet time.