Slovenia it is! First time from the fourth attempt.
Throughout an almost 30-year history of the traditional Valentin Granatkin Memorial there has been a number of occasions when the hosts had two participating teams at once. During Soviet times, these were teams USSR-1 and USSR-2 and later in the XXI century, the teams represented Russia and St. Petersburg. Last year the tournament had Russia, St. Petersburg and Moscow teams taking part altogether! Nevertheless, the past Granatkin Memorial 2016 saw only the second time in the history of this popular youth football competition when a sort of "insubordination" happened. For the first time such a case occurred in 1991 when team USSR-2 managed to leave team USSR-1 behind and to take the first prize. This year a youth team representing just one city was better than a youth national team (having beautifully won a head-to-head match with a score 5:1)! However, such a high score at the semi-final stage did not let team St. Petersburg coached by Vladimir Kazachionok take the main prize sensationally (following a 25 years ago example). Eventually the cup is leaving the city on Neva to fly across Europe to a distant country of Slovenia...
Who said January is not a football month?
Hardly had an outstanding artificial pitch of the Peterburgsky SCC finished hosting the 28th edition of the traditional Valentin Granatkin Memorial when St. Petersburg football fans got a chance to listen to the cheerful teenage voices and to the familiar sounds of a bouncing ball for another entire week. Well, it's "young" rather than "teenage" to be exact, since those are U-18 football teams that take part in Granatkin Memorial and U-21 teams that are playing to win the Commonwealth Cup. One can draw a parallel with student years when the SCC January football program is started by "the freshmen" and finished by "the graduates".
The final day of the tournament:
12:00. Match for the 7th place. Azerbaijan – Belarus 1:2
14:15. Match for the 5th place. Latvia – Slovakia 2:2 pen. 4:3
16:30. Match for the 3rd place. Finland - Russia 1:6
19:00. Final. Slovenia - Saint Petersburg 1:0
Dmitry SHNEIDER, the Grantakin Memorial Tournament Director
For the anniversary Granatkin Memorial we want to bring a team of stars consisting of the tournament "graduates".
It's been nine years already that Dmitry Shneider is heading Valentin Granatkin Memorial, the traditional football tournament held in Peterburgsky SCC in January, but over this time Dmitry was able to watch only about twenty full games himself out of more than two hundred interesting matches. And it's not because he does not like football. Shneider is eager to discuss it for hours when he has free time. It's just that the key words in the last sentence are "has free time". It's not difficult to understand that having fourteen teams from all over the world as participants of a prestigious international youth competition, the Tournament Director has a big number of organizing issues to sort out. And many of them have to be solved right on the spot. But nevertheless Shneider got a chance to watch the strongest teams of the 28th Valentin Granatkin Memorial in action. And there was a lot to watch, indeed! A talk with Dmitry Shneider dedicated to the final results of Granatkin Memorial has more:
The schedule of the eighth match-day:
10:00. Match for the 13th place. Lithuania – Estonia 0:2
12:15. Match for the 11th place. Moldova – Bulgaria 2:3
14:30. Match for the 9th place. Kazakhstan – Japan 2:3
17:00. Semi-final. Finland – Slovenia 1:5
19:30. Semi-final. Russia – Saint Petersburg 1:5
Father Frost (Russia) – Joulupukki (Finland) – 3:3!
Haven't you seen the Finnish Joulupukki in Peterburgsky SCC? Right, the Finnish Santa Claus? What? There was only our familiar Russian Father Frost playing the accordion in the sports complex lobby! No, for sure: Joulupukki has also sneaked to Valentin Granatkin Memorial next to Father Frost and was secretly hiding on the very top of the stands watching the youth match Russia – Finland and pinching out hairs from his long beard for luck of the Finnish team, like old Khottabych did!
Schedule of the second round
The Chief referee board of the International youth football tournament in memory of the first FIFA Vice-President Valentin Granatkin has approved the results of the group stage matches and has drawn up a schedule of the second stage of the competition:
A Warm Oasis Near A Park Of Frost
It's so easy to differentiate a "pedestrian" and a "car user" in the loud lobby of Peterburgsky SCC during Granatkin Memorial this year. You don't need to practice a deductive method of Sherlock Holmes to tell that this extremely red cheeks citizen with a sharply whitened nose has just walked (or even run) through the thoroughly frozen Park Pobedy from the metro station of the same name to SCC. And this fan looks alright which means he has just carefully parked his car and hasn't turned into a piece of ice shortly walking from a parking lot to the entrance.
Schedule of the seventh match-day:
12:00 #23 Group B Moldova – Kazakhstan 0:1
14:15 #24 Group A Japan – Belarus 3:1
16:30 #25 Group B Russia – Finland 3:3
19:00 #26 Group A Lithuania – St. Petersburg 0:5
Alexei EREMENKO, the Head coach of team Finland U-18:
"Why all three sons are midfielders like me? Looks like I can't teach anything else!"
In 1983 Eremenko, a very young midfielder of SKA, Rostov, got a son. Happy parents – a football player Alexei and a gymnast Nellia – named their first son Alexei after his father. "I was spending all days long at the trainings, so my wife and I decided that Alexei Eremenko has to be present at home all the time. If it's not Alexei Borisovich then it will be Alexei Alexeevich. Who would have thought then that our entire family would go abroad where they don't use the middle name?", recalls the main character of this interview.
Schedule of the sixth match-day:
12:00 #19 Group B Kazakhstan – Estonia 2:2
14:15 #20 Group С Bulgaria – Latvia 0:1
16:30 #21 Group A Belarus – Slovakia 2:0
19:00 #22 Group C Slovenia – Azerbaijan 4:0
Mikhail Markhel, Head coach of team Belarus (U-18): "I could have become the Champion of Russia with Vladikavkaz, but I had already given my word to Ivanov to go to Torpedo"
One of the most spectacular teams on the XXVIII Valentin Granatkin Memorial is U-18 team from Belarus. It scored five goals in the two starting matches (although conceded quite a lot as well – four). And you will not be surprised that the team is striving to play combinations and attack a lot once you find out they are coached by Mikhail Markhel, one of the brightest goal-scorer in Belarus football.
Schedule of the fifth match-day:
12:00 #15 Group B Estonia – Finland 1:1
14:15 #16 Group A Japan – Lithuania 2:2
16:30 #17 Group B Russia-Moldova 1:1
19:00 #18 Group A Slovakia – St. Petersburg 0:0
Schedule of the fourth match-day:
12:00 #11 Group B Finland – Kazakhstan 1:0
14:15 #12 Group С Latvia – Slovenia 1:1
16:30 #13 Group С Azerbaijan – Bulgaria 2:0
19:00 #14 Gruop A St. Petersburg – Belarus 3:1
"Red"? "Yellow"? "Green"!!!
Alexei Eremenko senior, ex-midfielder of Rostov SKA and Rostselmash, and Moscow Spartak, Torpedo and Dynamo – the head of the famous football family. Mikhail Markhel, one of the best Russian Championship-1993 strikers (14 goals for Spartak, Vladikavkaz). Viktorio Pavlov, ex-player of the both Bulgarian top clubs: Sofia CSKA and Levski. Kairat Aubakirov, ex-forward of Kairat, Almaty, sharing the same name as his former club. Igor Sukhovei, midfielder of St. Petersburg 1990s team Smena-Saturn. Algirdas Surgautas from Lithuania and Vyacheslav Dusmanov, ex-goalkeeper of Dynamo Moscow, who has been long working in Latvia – both used to be well-known goalkeepers...
Nikolay LEVNIKOV: "Being a referee on such a tournament is a great honour and responsibility"
Russian football referees (and their directors) do not tend to be very communicative when it comes to mass media – there are even certain professional and ethical restrictions... However, Nikolay Levnikov, the chairman of the FUR Referees Committee, is carefully following matches of the XXVIII Valentin Granatkin Memorial as a private person. Of course, first of all Levnikov is interested in the refereeing aspects – how the young Russian referees worked on one or another tournament game. Apart from that, there is a sincere interest in football itself performed by youth teams completely different in style coming from all over the world – from Slovenia to Japan.
Schedule of the third match-day:
16:30 #9 Group B Russia – Estonia 5:1
19:00 #10 Group A Lithuania – Slovakia 0:2
Sergey KIRYAKOV: “Winter football in excellent conditions – a valuable experience for young football players”
Seven and a half thousand spectators who attended Valentin Granatkin Memorial final match between Russia and Korea on January 11, 2015, will remember this game for a long time. And the reason is an incredibly dramatic win of the Russian Youth team (players born in 1997 year) coached by Sergey Kiryakov. The Koreans were leading 1:0 after the first half and had been keeping this minimal gap nearly till the very end. But Kiryakov guys managed to show their character and will by scoring two almost last minute goals to gain a spectacular win 2:1.
Vyacheslav DUSMANOV, Team Latvia coach: “A band” of competing goalkeepers in Dynamo was pretty outstanding: Uvarov, Kharin, Ovchinnikov, Smetanin… You try to break through!”
Each year Valentin Granatkin Memorial, besides the unique value of the January football tournament under the cozy roof of St. Petersburg SCC, presents us a rare opportunity to communicate with players who were famous one day. Those who stayed in big football, but are out of sight of the Russian supporters now because they work in former Soviet countries.
Schedule of of the second match-day:
12:00 #5 Group С Slovenia – Bulgaria 4:1
14:15 #6 Group С Azerbaijan – Latvia 1:1
16:30 #7 Group B Finland – Moldova 0:0
19:00 #8 Group A St. Petersburg – Japan 4:3
Wasting no time…
“We sing a song for desperation of the brave…” The first match-day of the XXVIII Valentin Granatkin Memorial turned out to be bright and rich for notable events – everything to satisfy spectators attending St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex.
The tournament is officially opened!
Valentin Granatkin Memorial official opening ceremony was held in St. Petersburg Sport and Concert Complex between the second and the third matches.
Schedule of matches the first match-day:
12:00 #1 Group B Estonia – Moldova 2:2
14:15 #2 Group A Slovakia – Japan 3:0
16:45 #3 Group B Kazakhstan – Russia 0:5
19:00 #4 Group A Belarus – Lithuania 4:1
TASS news agency hosted the press conference dedicated to the upcoming tournament in Saint Petersburg.
Aleksandr Perelman, the Deputy Chairman of the Saint Petersburg Committee for Sport, commenced the press conference noting that Granatkin Memorial is opening the sports season in the city attracting a vast number of spectators, experts and media.