FTC: playing at Euro 2020 is my top priority – Zubkov
Mainly the possibility of playing at the European Championship at the end of this season motivates Ukrainian winger Oleksandr Zubkov who plays for Hungarian National League defending champion FTC.
|Oleksandr Zubkov likes to play football in Fradi and is doing everything to be capped for Ukraine (Photo: Károly Árvai)|
– You are at home, and yet there is great silence.
– My daughter Sofia is sleeping on the terrace right now – told our portal 24-year-old former Ukrainian national team winger Oleksandr Zubkov who signed on with Ferencváros in May 2019, and head coach Serhiy Rebrov counts on him a lot. – She is just over four and a half months old. My wife wanted to give birth to our first baby in Kyiv, and I accepted her decision. They came back to Budapest in March, so everything is perfect around me.
– Is that why you score goals in pairs?
– It looks like if I score a goal this season, I will score a second one as well. Last time I doubled against MTK. I'm left-footed, yet I scored them with my right foot. It also could be on the cards that the first goal gives me even more confidence. One thing for sure is that I played against Fehérvár with extra motivation as I wanted to score.
– You formed a heart with your hands after each goal and sent a kiss to the camera. Was it for your daughter?
– And for my wife. When I left in the morning for the match, I whispered to my daughter Sofia, “Daddy is definitely going to score today.” It worked.
– Before your first goal, you attacked aggressively to prompt Fehérvár's goalkeeper Dániel Kovács to make a mistake. Did you feel you had to run down the opponent?
– It was a day of intuition. In situations like this, I don't always run so far ahead because attacking the goalkeepers is mainly the forwards' job and not ours as wingers. However, I felt I shouldn't let that opportunity go, so I attacked the center back. Then, when I saw him pass the goalkeeper the ball, I kept running, and I didn't let it go.
– What about your second goal? You scored that very calm.
– My teammate Isael teased me to a masterful ball, and all I had to do was make sure I didn't push it too long. After seeing the defenders fall behind and the goalkeeper moving out of his net, I decided to play on top of the ball. That was a good intuition, too! As they say, I used my head. In Sunday's clash, we tried a new composition, and in addition to winning, we were glad that it worked well.
– The three defenders almost completely blocked the area in the direction of goalkeeper Ádám Bogdán. Could this have been the key to success?
– We trained a lot to possess the ball even more, and thanks to this structure, it worked. But we must acknowledge that the rivals sometimes led dangerous counterattacks. They were fast, they were nimble, and we had to be clever in these situations. In the days leading up to the match, we practiced the movements a lot and who has what responsibilities in this composition. We were happy to have passed a test in such formation as well. Serhiy Rebrov praised the defense after the match for a reason.
– Weren't you worried at the end when Fehérvár caught up?
– To be honest, it occurred to me right away that when I doubled last time, the score was 2-2. MTK equalized at that time, and I didn't want this to happen again in Székesfehérvár. I was sitting on the bench by then because the coaches had replaced me, but I trusted my teammates, and they solved the problem.
–The 78-point league points record is within reach with another win. Does that motivate you?
– I'm more interested in winning the remaining two games and performing well by scoring more goals. The summer European Championship is my top priority, and I don't want to miss it. In the last few lineup announcements, national team head coach Andriy Shevchenko counted on me. However, I'm also aware that all Ukrainian footballers in these weeks and days are now working hard to convince him that they belong in the European Championship squad.
– When will be the lineup announced?
– In early May. The squad meets in Kyiv on the 15th and will attend a 3-week training camp. It'd be nice to be there.
– You start against the Netherlands in Amsterdam in the continental tournament.
– We're not afraid of anyone. After the match in Amsterdam, the team will move to Bucharest, where we play against North Macedonia and Austria. Our national team aims to advance from the group stage.
Translated by Vanda Orosz.