"We could not stop thinking about going to the World Cup"

The head coach of team Belarus Nico said that he always believed in this group of players.

Belarus made history yesterday and qualified to their first ever World Cup. They lost their best player Igor Brishtel due to injury but still were able to show their best game. Belarus came back against Italy with 2 seconds left in the third period and then won on the penalties. 

When Portugal beat Poland, it was clear that Belarus is going to Paraguay. BSRussia talked to the head coach Nico who explained how Belarus achieved this result. 

-Nico, what are your emotions right now?

- The emotions are great. It’s a great success for the whole team, for our federation. We all worked very hard to be where we are right now. We are among the best teams of the world. I can not wish for more. 

- When did you understand that your World Cup dream became real?

- Two seconds ago (laughs). We played well at this tournament but in beach soccer it is all unpredictable, so you can look too far ahead. 

- There were lots of critical notes towards your team after the first group stage. The game against Lithuania was not great. How did you manage to turn things around?

- I always believed in my team. When we did not succeed at the European Games in Minsk, I did not lose faith in my players. I knew what they were capable of. I think we were unlucky in some moments. 

- You lost your best player Igor Brishtel recently. How did it affect your capability and desire to qualify to the World Cup?

- You always want to be at the World Cup. You dream about it. You can not stop thinking about it. As I said before, I always believed in these group of players. Brishtel is a great player, but we showed that we can be successful as a team. 


- Belarus got a great support at this World Cup qualifier. How did it help your team in Moscow?

- That helped a lot for sure! We are lucky to have the best fans in the world. We feel their support anywhere we go. They push us to move forward and score as many goals as possible. 

- Your team did not get a result at European Games at home. Did the Federation put you under more pressure in terms of qualifying to the World Cup?

- No, they showed their trust in me and my team. It is not always about results. We had long-term plans with our Federation, so it was not like “if you do not qualify to the World Cup, you are fired”. Nothing like that. 

- You already achieved your main goal here in Moscow. But there is two more games to play. Is it important for you to finish in top-3 here?

- It’s always nice to be on top. But we are already on top, so we can play in a more relaxed manner and enjoy the situation. 

- Let’s come back to Igor Brishtel’s absence. It is a little bit weird that you achieved your biggest success without your best player?

- Of course, he is an important player for us on and off the field. There is no about that. But may be his absence gave more chances to other players to show what they got. I would like to thank each and everyone on the team for what they did at this tournament. 

- There was a lot of controversy in terms of inviting Anatoliy Ryabko to play for Belarus. Is it fair to say now that it was the right decision?

- We had to consider different factors before making this decision. We discussed it together with the Federation. As a player he was very effective for us so far. 

- Belarus was very close to big achievements before. What helped you to make this final step to success?

- I think the team started believing in themselves. We got more experience that was lacking before. Now we know how to control the game. 

- Will you go to Paraguay to get more experience or fight for the medals?

- We are going to Paraguay and that is the most important part right now (smiles). But of course Belarus want to be placed as high as possible at the World Cup. 

- Belarus players are not considered as foreigners in Russian Superleague anymore. Is it also a big help for the team?

- It’s a good thing for sure, because Russia league is very strong. I believe that playing in a good and competitive league helps them grow as professionals.