Michal Bilek: 'The national team has a character and they are developing their skills'

Michal Bilek: 'The national team has a character and they are developing their skills'

26 December, 19:00
The Kazakhstani head coach Michal Bilek summed up the results of the current season, talked about the problems of the national team and gave his predictions for the future.

- What happened in Scotland? Why did the team, having played first half well, in the second concede three goals?

- Yes, I agree with you, in the first half, the team played well. We played in an organized manner and scored a beautiful goal in a counterattack. During the break, I told the players that we needed to focus on closing the space in our half of the pitch because the opponent had fast players who skillfully use this area. The same problem happened in several moments and in the first half. However, at the beginning of the second half, we conceded a quick goal. Then, the second goal followed, which was counted by mistake of the main referee. We tried to change the situation, but the opponent increased pressure and physically they were better prepared.

- After the game against Scotland, it seemed that our players did not have enough strength in the second half. The same situation was in the home game against Cyprus. Is this a consequence of the poor physical fitness of our players?

- If you take the Scottish team, in this team most of the players play for the clubs of the English Premier League and Championship. In these championships, they play matches every three days, so they are better prepared for such a tough schedule than the players of our national team. In the championship of Kazakhstan, games are held once a week. Our players are not used to such a schedule. There is only Astana, which, playing in the Europa League, plays every three days. However, legionnaires play quite often in their starting lineup.

- The national team of Kazakhstan has the main 14-15 players. Do you agree that the Kazakhstan team lacks competitiveness and there are few players in the domestic championship that can strengthen your team?

- Yes, I share your opinion. There is such a problem that our players do not have enough game practice in their clubs. For example Yuriy Pertsukh. He has played more for the national team in the starting lineup than for his club. Therefore, our players get tired and do not have time to recover for the second game. This was the reason that we gave the chance to 29 players in the qualifying round to prove themselves.

- Forward Aleksey Shchetkin is always under discussion. Why did you choose this Forward?

- In my opinion, currently, he is the best Kazakhstani Forward. It is a pity that in the last qualifying round he missed many games due to an injury and played only four matches. In four matches, he scored two goals and gave one assist. The Kazakhstan team needs a forward who will work for the team throughout the match, helping it to both defend and attack. But this does not mean that the road to the national team is closed to other Kazakhstan Strikers. If the player does his best, then we will recall him.

- Abat Aimbetov is the top scorer of the championship with a Kazakhstan passport. Why did he play for the national team only in substitution?

-  Aimbetov has game qualities. We need a such Forward on our team. But usually he takes the field when we need to change tactics during the match. If we talk about his qualities, then he is strong in the penalty area. We need Aimbetov to improve his game between the lines in the game combinations.

- What would you say about Dmitro Nepogodov?

- I think that he is number one now. He played all the matches and made just one mistake in San Marino. In other matches he played well. At the end of the season, coaches, players and managers of Kazakhstan teams recognized him as the best goalkeeper of the championship.

- You trust young football players. This year, the midfielder Aibol Abiken and the forward Abat Aimbetov made their debut for the national team. Are there any other young players in your list who might play for the national team next year?

-  Of course. We watched all the games of the Kazakhstan youth team this year. In addition, after each game I talked with the team’s coach, Alexander Moskalenko. Now there are 3 or 4 football players who will get their chance. However, it all depends on them.

- The victory over the Scottish national team in the first round was amazing, did it come as a surprise to you?

- I am glad that the Kazakhstan Football Federation organized a training session in February in Turkey. There I managed to watch the matches of all Kazakhstan teams, get to know the national team players, and played a friendly match against Moldova. Then, I realized what kind of players I would have in my game with Scotland. In that meeting, by the 10th minute we were already 2-0 in the score, in the second half we scored the third goal. In general, the team showed organized football and delighted the country. The result of the match was a big surprise not only for the fans, but also for me.

- We lost the home match against Cyprus with 1:2. That was the most annoying defeat in the qualifying round.

- I agree with you. In the first half, we played good football, scored a goal, while missing a few good chances to increase our advantage. In the second half, the opponent punished us for our mistakes.

- One of the common questions from our fans on social networks: What happened to Merkel? Where is he?

- Alexander Merkel played the first matches well against Scotland and Russia. However, he had some problems with documents. We continue to watch his game in Holland. He is one of the best.

- What were your tasks for this qualifying round?

- Even at the first press conference, I said that the goal was to play better than in previous qualifying rounds. After I headed the national team, the initial task was to change the team’s game scheme. Next we wanted to change the psychology of the players and give them more confidence. The third point was to organize a friendly atmosphere. I think we could have scored. In general, the players did their best. The team has a character and they are developing their skills.- We had a chance to take third place in the group. If Kazakhstan had done it, would it have been a huge success for you?

- Yes, that would have been a great success. Not only for me, everyone wanted to take the third place. I think that all the best results for the national team are yet to come. The current squad needs to play together for another 3-4 years, then the team will be ready to achieve bigger results.

- The next UEFA Nations League tournament starts only in September 2020. Until this time, the national team of Kazakhstan plans to hold several friendly games. Which teams would you prefer to play against?

- For the national team, it would be better if our future rivals were in the FIFA ranking higher than we are.

- Negotiations on a friendly game with Uzbekistan are underway. Are you comfortable with such an opponent?

- Yes, the national team of Uzbekistan is now strong. This team has good players. For example, the Forward of the Russian FC Rostov Eldar Shomurodov. They performed well in the qualifying round of the World Cup in the Asian Confederation. We are expecting a very interesting match.

Soon Kazakhstani players will not be considered legionnaires in Russia. What do you think? In this case, is there any chance for the players of the Kazakhstan National Team to play for the clubs of the Russian Premier League?

- It's a difficult question. The Russian Premier League is higher. Baktiyar Zaynutdinov and Akmal Bakhtiyarov play in Russia, but not in the starting lineup. It is important for me that the players get game practice there.

- Can the national team of Kazakhstan with its current squad play even stronger?

- I think we should learn from the mistakes. Let's take a look at the squad of our team. There are only 2-3 field players, who are now over 30 years old. I think these players can play at this level for another 3-4 years without any problems. We have some good players under 30. However, I repeat, it is important that our players get game practice in their clubs. To achieve good results in the UEFA Nations League, it is necessary that the players of our national team are in good condition.

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