Samara is a football-addicted city with huge traditions. I’ll say just one thing – Krylya are the only provincial team that have never been relegated from the Russian Championship. And the third place in 2004, and the highest attendance in Eastern Europe at the Metallurg stadium says it all. But the times are changing, and Krylya are in their usual place again, fighting relegation playoffs. But the management has been original, finding players in exotic leagues.
Let’s run through them.
N.B. I will only count those who are presented on the official site. And I won’t count Alexander Amisulashvili (who has Georgian citizenship) there, because, despite that, he is presented as a Russian player on the site.
There are 8 foreigners in the 29 player squad.
Syarhey Veremko (GK), 30 years
Former club: FC Sevastopol (Ukraine)
As Krylya started their 2011\2012 season with the incredibly bad Raice M’Boli, who later was rated the worst RPL goalkeeper of the season, they had to look into the transfer market during the summer. And they’ve found him: A former BATE Borisov keeper, who also started his year in the ongoing Ukrainian championship, and got relegated. For sure, there were more opportunities in moving to Samara.
And he has proven it: starting as a completely unknown player, he shortly became, without any doubt, the number one on Andrey Kobelev’s team. And he still is, periodically even playing for the national team.
He played 27 matches, conceded 46 goals and received 6 yellow cards, having to leave the starting 11 place to local Denis Vavilin. But only once, and, if nothing happens, in the new season, which Krylya will start in the Premier League, he will be the number one.
Bruno Martins Teles (DEF), 27 years
Former club: Vitoria Guimaraes (Portugal)
When Andrey Kobelev looked to strengthen the team with players from big leagues, it was hard not to look once at Portugal, where he found this Brazilian. He spent some good seasons there and looked capable to play for Samara side.
He, without a doubt, became a starting 11 player at Krylya, playing 24 matches and 2090 minutes (#1 of the pitch players). His performance was not bad at all too. He will probably stay in the team as better clubs definitely won’t be desperate to sign him.
Dmitriy Verkhovtsov (DEF), 26 years
Former club: Naftan Novopolotsk (Belarus)
There’s not a lot of Belorussian internationals who play in their own league. Verkhovtsov was one of them. Moreover, he played for the outsiders. This transfer was cheap, looking back on it, and Krylya did well because of that.
Moving there in the winter of 2012, the defender secured a clear place at the central defender position and his play helped the team survive that season. After last summer, however, he only played 14 matches (mostly in the autumn) and was put in the reserves 4 times this spring.
As there’s no place for him in Krylya, I’ll bet he moves to the FNL or Belarussian side this summer.
Benoit Cristian Angbwa (DEF), 31 year
Former club: FC Rostov (Russia)
Everyone knows that there’s a certain group of players Gadzhiev takes everywhere he goes. Angbwa is apparently amongst them, working with the Dagestani for the fourth time and wearing a Krylya shirt for the second.
He was an untouchable at Rostov, and so he was at Samara, missing only two regular championship matches and even scoring a goal against Alania. Even though he’s 31, there’s no doubt he’s staying put. At least, as long as Gadzhiev is nearby.
Stanislav Dragun (MID), 25 years
Former club: Dinamo Minsk (Belarus)
Aaaaaand another Belorussian. And again from the local side. The newest signing from the Potato Land came as nothing special, although media were reporting him as a very talented player who happened to stay in the national league for too long. He even took part in the London Olympics.
But the difference between the Russian and Belorussian leagues is too big (what we could have seen with Bressan, for example) and even playing 9 full matches, he hasn’t shown anything special. Thus, he will definitely stay under Gadzhiev’s patronage. The next season will be decisive.
Reginale Goreux (MID), 25 years
Former club: Standard Liege (Belgium)
I’d never heard of him before. Probably, if anybody followed the Belgian league, they could tell me why Goreux was the best man in Krylya this spring. His 2 goals and 4 assists in 13 matches (in comparison, Jose Manuel Jurado from Spartak scored thrice and made 4 assists in 17 matches) was something very, very unexpected. Moreover, he brought Krylya a vital victory against Alania. You never know…
As Krylya will aim for something better than the playoffs the next season, they must be keen to save Goreux. And I guess there’s nothing much more interesting for the player to want to leave Samara. Simple as that.
Sergey (Syarhey) Kornilenko (FWD), 30 years
Former club: Blackpool FC (England) on loan\Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia)
Dinamo Minsk (did you expect anything else?), Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Tom Tomsk, Zenit, Tom again, Rubin, Blackpool – Kornilenko’s pathway to Samara was not the predicted one. After his loan in England ended without any grace, he wanted to find a team where he wouldn’t have to fight relegation. Ermmm, I’d propose he’s happy now.
Although, while being good during the 2011\12 season and becoming Krylya’s most trustworthy attacking force, he had to go to the Olympics and then to his doctors’ caring hands. So, his 3 goals in 22 matches wasn’t something unbelievably bad.
I can’t be sure he’d like to stay after such a season. But he can’t be sure he would receive something special. He’s 30 and he has to decide.
Luis Caballero (FWD), 23 years
Former club: Olimpia Asuncion (Paraguay).
Look closer. Closer. Closer. Here’s a unique player. Unique man, you would rarely see the same one over here. This is a Latin player who was not known at all and after his move immediately started to show how useful he could be. Actually, he has never been so good in Paraguay.
And he became the one who has put Krylya clear of relegation (not really sure they could have been worse than the hopelessness of Alania or Mordovia play, but…), with 10 goals and 5 assists. His place in the national team was secured. The result was outstanding, and if I didn’t know he just moved last summer, I’d bet he’s already looking for apartments in Moscow. Or Kazan. Or Krasnodar. Or a small European city. But since he’s new, I’ll stay silent and watch him play for Krylya next year, once again tough for Gadzhiev’s team. This guy is really, really worth the attention.
The conclusion: As in every Russian side, Krylya’s foreigners are not all useful. Some of them, of course, could strengthen most of the PL teams, but others must be moved out. I can’t see what Angbwa or Verkhovtsov are giving t0 the league. Honestly, I can say the same about Krylya nowadays…
Author: Pavel Borisov
Born and raised in Nizhny Novgorod, but live in Vancouver most of the time. Supported CSKA as a youngster, lost interest in football, and started supporting Spartak when I found it again. Hate the national team, however it sounds like. More about the surrounding stuff than football itself.