Story and facts in brief
Despite being the youngest club in Premium Liiga, FC Infonet is certainly one of the most ambitious.
Founded by the IT entrepreneur Andrew Leshkin, Infonet is the name of the sponsor, providing internet, cable tv and phone packages. The club has become distinctive for its work with its academy, where most of their young talents come from. The club is guided by two historical personages of the history of Estonian football: Aleksandr Pushtov, the head coach, was the first player to score a goal for Estonia after regaining independence (a 1-1 draw against Slovenia in Kadriorg stadium) and his assistant, Sergei Bragin, who scored the first goal in qualification games (Scotland-Estonia 3-1). Their training camp is in the large Soviet-time built district of Lasnamäe.
Transfers (full stories here)
Nikolai Mashichev (RUS - LMF, Sillamäe Kalev)
Vladislav Ivanov (RUS - FWD, free agent)
Aleksandr Volodin (EST - RB, Sillamäe Kalev)
Mikhail Lavrentjev (EST - GK, Sillamäe Kalev)
Jüri Jevdokimov (EST - FW, free agent)
Vladislavs Kozlovs (LVA - FW, FK Jelgava)
Aleksandr Dmitrjev (EST - DMF, FC Levadia)
Ermal Hajdari (SWE - FW, Fredrikstads FF)
Manucho (CIV - FW, USM Alger, ALG)
Artjom Dmitrjev (EST - FW, Nõmme Kalju)
Albert Taar (EST - MF, suspended for matchfixing until the 5.12.2018)
Vladislav Ivanov (RUS - FW, Mubarek Mash'al, UZB)
Maksim Lipin (EST - RW, free agent)
Kostantin Nahk (EST - MF, retirement)
Oleg Valov (RUS - LW, free agent)
Marten Saarlas (EST - FW, Tallinna C.F.)
Coach: Aleksander Pushtov (confirmed)
Registered players on Premium Liiga website
Realistic Targets for 2015
A mammoth mid-season run, which included a 10-1 drubbing of Lokomotiv Jõhvi, saw Infonet threaten to challenge for the 2014 title before they ran out of steam and settled for a 5th placed finish.
They have lost key striker Manucho, along with veteran midfielder Konstantin Nahk, Maksim Lipin, Artjom Dmitrijev and Albert Taar, the latter for matchfixing offences, but they have added some interesting names.
Vladislav Ivanov was a particularly eyebrow-raising addition, but his time as an Infonet player lasted all of two months as he set sail for Uzbekistan as a result of a release clause in his contract.
A mini raid on Sillamae Kalev has seen Nikolai Mashichev, Aleksandr Volodin and Mikhail Lavrentjev join the squad, with Juri Jevdokimov looking to reignite his career after leaving Nõmme Kalju.
A number of trialists have been given playing time, though none appear to have done enough to secure contracts, but left winger Vladislavs Kozlovs has joined from FK Jelgava as the season draws near. Coach Pushtov has spoken of his near-contentment with the squad he has, and with players of real experience and quality added to young prospects like Igonen and Golovljov, Infonet will be setting their sights on the top three, an aim which doesn’t look far from their grasp.
Matvei Igonen, who might be Italy-bound in the future, and Eduard Golovljov have both been retained, which is a big boost for Infonet. Their stock can only rise this year and a move abroad is likely to be on the horizon. Jevgeni Harin is another product of the Infonet academy who will be looking to build on last season, with Vladimir Avilov and Aleksandr Semakhin already established members of the first team. The future certainly looks rosy for the Lasnamäe-based outfit.
Despite Ivanov's brief stay, Infonet appear to have improved on last year's squad. The Sillamae trio bring experience and quality, while Jevdokimov will be looking to find the spark he lost during a frustrating 2014 at Kalju. It remains to be seen if their additions, together with the last-minute signing of Vladislavs Kozlovs (FK Jelgava, LVA) will be enough to replace Manucho, but a more team-focused approach looks possible this year.
by Chris Johns