Coaches with Caucasian accent

Nikita Simonyan, Nodar Akhalkatsi, Valery Gazzaev and Stanislav Cherchesov
Nikita Simonyan, Nodar Akhalkatsi, Valery Gazzaev and Stanislav Cherchesov

In different years the Soviet and Russian teams were trained by four trainees of Caucasian clubs: Nikita Simonyan, Nodar Akhalkatsi, Valery Gazzayev and Stanislav Cherchesov. The first of them who took over the national team was a native of Armavir and one of the most eminent players of Spartak Moscow - Nikita Simonyan. Before joining the Moscow clubs Simonyan played in Dynamo (Sukhumi), but the highest success as a player he achieved under Spartak banners - he was the best striker in the history of the famous team, scoring 160 goals.

He is remembered in the national team's history as a football player, who scored the first goal in the world championships. It happened in 1958, while playing with the ancestors of football - the UK. And 18 years later he took over it after the failure of Valery Lobanovsky's team at the Montreal Olympics. Then after winning 'bronze', Lobanovsky was not just dismissed as senior coach of the country's main team, but they also wanted Kiev to ban him from football completely, which, fortunately, did not happen. Simonyan was instructed to coach the national team. Specialists and football chiefs came to the conclusion that Soviet football's focus on the superclub, like Dynamo Kiev, is a losing option both for the domestic championship and the national team. Simonyan reduced the presence of Kiev players at the expense of players from other clubs - they had a wide choice though. Therefore, under his leadership, the first game of the country's main team seemed somewhat strange - the Soviet team vs. the Soviet team-2. The match was held at the Luzhniki Stadium, the first version of the team won.

Nikita Simonyan served in this important capacity until September 1979, handing over powers to Konstantin Beskov a year before the Moscow Olympics. Simonyan's team then did not cope with the task - did not reach the final of the European Championship, but Beskov's team lost the home Olympics with the third place (like Lobanovsky in Montreal). The coach was not removed from his position, being charged with the task of preparing the team for the 1982 World Cup. But, judging by his memories in the book titled 'My life in football', he himself proposed to strengthen the coaching staff with Valery Lobanovsky and Nodar Akhalkatsi in autumn 1981. The sports authorities liked this offer, considering the fact that there were many Kiev and Tbilisi natives in the team. And Nikita Simonyan was appointed the teams's coach, since he was state coach of the State Committee of the Soviet Union in those years.

"Beskov and other coaches consulted with Nikita Pavlovich, who was like the team's fourth coach. The years that he worked in the national team is to the credit of the national football. Our team was a worthy competitor for the strongest national teams. 91 -year-old Nikita Pavlovich still works as vice-president of the Russian Football Union. Thanks to him, our football still achieves some decent results, like in the case with Saudi Arabia - 5:0. Alas, there are a lot and people in the football leadership who are far from football, enticed by big money. Russian football was on the edge due to them already... But thanks to people like Nikita Pavlovich!" a national football veteran, Spartak player during the 1960s Valery Reingold told me.

Nodar Akhalkatsi was the coach of the country's main team during the Spanish world championship. But his successes are more related to Dinamo Tbilisi, which he led to the victory in the 1981 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, the 1978 Soviet Top League, the 1976 and 1979 Soviet Cup. The Tbilisi team under Akhalkatsi was a unity of virtuosic technical players, any of which would by seized eagerly by leading world clubs. The talented Georgian team played, easily beating, for example, Liverpool 3:0 in the official meeting.

Valery Gazzaev headed the already Russian national team. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, our team was third in the group stage, after which sports managers dismissed Oleg Romantsev and started to think about inviting a foreign specialist. Such eminent names were sounded as Danish Richard Møller Nielsen, Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, Italian Marco Tardelli and French Philippe Troussier. But in the end, the RFU appointed Valery Gazzaev, instructing him to prepare the team for the 2004 UEFA European Championship.

Gazzayev worked in this position just over a year. The national team defeated Albania, but then lost to it, as well as Georgia. After an unspectacular friendly with Israel (Russia lost 1:2 in Moscow), Gazzaev stepped down, saying: "I do not want to work with such weak-willed football players." Many specialists, including Gazzaev's critic Oleg Blokhin, justified him, noting that if he had time, he would have been able to create a strong team.

Perhaps the mistakes of those years will be taken into account by Stanislav Cherchesov, who was appointed coach of the country's main team in August 2016. After a series of inexpressive friendlies, his team surprised the fans with a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the 2018 World Cup opening match. But in the coming days he will face new and more serious challenges, on which his future coaching destiny depends. The statistics of the team under the leadership of Cherchesov are as follows: 6 wins, 6 draws and 9 defeats out of 21 games played to date.

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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