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“Feel at ease”. Funny stories from Khatskevich’s life and career

  Aleksandr Khatskevich became new head coach of Belarusian national football team

The Belarusian Football Federation has taken a long time to come to a crucial point and to appoint the head coach for the national team. After examining 30 candidates that can already be called mythic ones, the general public, tired of waiting, has met Aleksandr Khatskevich – one of the best football players of the sovereign Belarus and a novice coach. SPORT.TUT.BY. highlights the noteworthy moments from the novice coach’s life and career.

Aleksandr Khatskevich. Born in October, 19th , 1973. Center halfback.

Played in FC Dinamo Minsk (1992-1996), FC Dinamo Kyiv (1996-2003), FC Qianjin, China (2004), FC Venta, Latvia (2005), FC Dinamo Minsk (2005-2007).

Four times champion of Belarus, 7 times champion of Ukraine.

Khatskevich made 39 appearances and scored four goals for the Belarus national football team.

Playing in FC Dinamo Kyiv in 1999 he became a semi-finalist of the UEFA Champion League, where his team lost to FC Bayern München – 3:3 (home game) и 0:1 (away game).

Khatskevich was named twice the best football player of Belarus (1998, 2000).

Khatskevich started his coaching career in FC Dinamo Minsk in 2007, he also headed the Belarusian national youth (under 18) football team (2008), FC Vitebsk (2008-2009), he was a member of the Ukrainian national football team (2010-2011). Before becoming the head coach of the Belarusian national football team Aleksandr headed FC Dinamo-2 Kyiv (2012-2014) and worked with the youth Dinamo Kyiv team (2011-2012).

 

The link Khatskevich – Byalkevich appeared in the childhood

Aleksandr Khatskevich started practicing football nearly at the same time as Valyantsin Byalkevich who became the best Belarusian football player of the decade (1990-2000), but, unfortunately, suddenly died last summer. That’s why we do not exaggerate saying that for years this notable halfbacks’ link, that had a significant role in FC Dinamo Minsk and Kyiv and in the Belarusian national football team, appeared in the childhood. Moreover, the guys had a good rapport both inside and outside the field.

Mihail Bratchenya, the first Khatskevich and Byalkevich’s coach, says the following about his disciples’ football debut:

“Sasha was the first to come. At the first training I noticed, that the guy had the potential. It is evident when a person is talented. And there’s no need in any stimulus or pressure. I only had to improve his skills and channel his efforts”.

“They have absolutely different characters. Sashka (Aleksandr Khatskevich) is more persistent, pushier, harder in all aspects. He is also determined: if he sets a goal, he achieves it. Sasha was full of energy, he was a perfect leader and a great fighter. As for Valik (Valyantsin Byalkevich), he was “a mousy” – very coy, but he always had his own opinion. However, I noticed that on the field they were thinking nearly identically. That’s why they got on well and had no conflicts”.

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Valyantsin Byalkevich and Aleksandr Khatskevich

 

“Sasha had a lot of problems: he even wanted to give up football. When he was 14, he started to act as if he were a football star like Pelé, simply put he showed off. And when once again he began to misbehave, I simply changed him. Sasha got mad, spat and went back home. I said: “You will regret”. Three weeks passed, he called me and said: “Sorry, Mihail Stepanych”. I answered: “Why are you calling me by phone? Come to train, run some laps to recover yourself and then we’ll talk”. He came”.

Byalkevich and Khatskevich know each other from their football school time, and about 10 years ago Alyaskandr said the following about their friendship: “Valik knows me better than my wife, with whom I have been married for 16 years. Indeed, we know each other 25 years”.

“It is likely that the national team is alive”. They preferred Khatskevich over Maradona to be the head coach

 

A jolly fellow and a joker

In the times when harsh and unsmiling Georgi Kondratiev reigned in the Belarusian national football team, the football players lacked in abandon. And it was evident comparing to the period when Bernd Stange was the head coach, as he was highly inventive to band the team together. It’s likely that tightness and gloom were pushed to the field, and the team felt uncomfortable headed by Georgi.

Aleksandr Khatskevich was a joker inside and outside the field. Aleksandr is said to drive away a car-lift truck from the Polish Olympic base one day when he was a youth player. He and another 2 football players intended to drive 60 km to reach Warsaw to buy spirits to celebrate the victory.

Vital Valadzyankow, the former Khatskevich’s Dinamo Minsk teammate shared the experience of their birthdays’ parties:

“My wife was shocked. He didn’t understand at all what the football holiday meant. And along comes Sanya Khatskevich opening a bottle of champagne and pouring it over the others. We are having fun, but she is really frightened. She is red faced and out of the party.

“Vitalik, Vitalik, get out of here”, she says. And then Khats pulls her aside and asks: “Are your relationships with Vitalik serious?” “I believe yes, perhaps, serious, really”. – “Look, do not offend Vitalik!” Then drunk Khatskevich couldn’t stop talking.

Khatskevich can’t stay calm. He takes at ease. He cheers everyone up. I remember my 30th anniversary party at “Max Show”. We invited Sanya and he said: “Guys, I doubt I’ll be able to come… I have some problems…” Okay. We started celebrating without him. It’s 9 a.m. already. And suddenly there appears Khatskevich and starts singing: “You came from May flying”. We were amused. The party got started again. Sasha’s cool.

Valik, Khatsyk are legends. You know, the more people achieve, the simpler they are. It’s true. Such kind and open guys as Sasha are uncommon. I remember him coming to Minsk from Kyiv and parking his “mercedes”. One of us is looking on the car. We are afraid to think about the car price. But Sanya straight away says: “Take the keys, have a ride. I’m serious. Take it”.

In summer, 2007, already finishing his career Aleksandr Khatskevich took part in a charity party at “Overtime” in the framework of “Sportsmen to children” event. During one performance the organizers put into a cage Sergei Aleinikov, the best Belarusian football player of the 20th century, Aleksandr Khatskevich and Gennady Tumilovich. After that three naked dancers with cat’s masks ran to the dance floor and then jumped to the same cage. But according to the performance rules the football players had no right to touch the women, and that’s why the sportsmen were sexually tortured by the pussies.

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The Cage incident

According to the performance rules the football players had no right to touch the women, and that’s why the sportsmen were sexually tortured by the pussies. Picture: gazetaby.com

“These are the traditions that were founded by USSR football players, and we are not to break them”, – said one day Aleksandr Khatskevich to the journalists, commenting on football players’ adventures and on the saying “If you are not a smoker, nor a drinker, you are not a team member”.

But we shouldn’t take it literally; otherwise Khatskevich’s career would not have been so long and successful.

There is no need fearing that with his arrival to the team anarchy and uncontrollable fun will reign. With aging Aleksandr takes a different view of things, he proved that in his recent interview for “Pressball”: “In 1994 FC Dinamo Minsk went on the road to South America… It was a month of a carnival in which apart from football there was the rum “President” and coca-cola, we mixed them and drunk after the matches. At that time Sergei Aleinikov, Andrei Zygmantovich, Gena Lesun and Zhenya Kashentsev played there. Aleinikov warned the youth: “Guys, you are wasting your talent in vain…” He was an experienced man, we were young lads, how can we know much about life? We were tempted by money: we gained 125 dollars per match; we had them seven, thus we gained almost one thousand dollars in total; at that time it was an enormous sum”.

By the way, during the South America tour Khatskevich got hepatitis B – rare and disgusting, especially for sportsmen, disease. It bowled him out for a long period of time, but the football player managed to recover, and some years later he was even named the best football player of Belarus. All in all, he continued examining his liver at the doctor’s.

Now Khatskevich has a right to instruct his players with skill like Aleinikov did it earlier. Surely he did it in FC Dinamo-2 Kyiv when one young player was very much into the entertainment sphere.

However, Khatskevich’s process of training is doubtfully to be too gloomy and boring.

Furthermore, Khatskevich is a desperate gambler and fisherman. It is also known that he played hockey in his childhood.

 

The football elite supported Khatskevich

Straight after the news about Georgi Kondratiev’s leaving the post of the head coach, Aleksandr Khatskevich gained the greatest support in the football circles of the country – both among the national football team ex-players and the current ones.

The candidature of Khatskevich was approved by Anatoly Kapsky, FC BATE coach, Aleksandr Kulchy and Gennady Tumilovich, his ex-teammates. Tumilovich put it black and white: ” Khatskevich is the only candidate who can lead the team to success “.

Khatskevich had also Aleksandr Gleb’s support, who fell into disgrace of the former team management. Gleb claimed that if there had been such a possibility at the time when he played for FC Arsenal, he would have taken Byalkevich, Khatskevich and Aleksandr Kulchy with him.

Among other Khatskevich’s supporters are the legionaries Sergey Kislyak, Sergey Krivets, Sergey Balanovich, Stanislav Dragun…

And even the football federation did not deny the fact that Khatskevich was the first with whom they had negotiations. But the appointment announcement was postponed, the Football Federation of Belarus (BFF) reported first about 30 candidates and then about 10 candidates left.

The most successful Belarusian specialist Victor Goncharenko also supported Khatskevich. After Victor left FC Kuban he was invited by BBF for the post of the head coach, but he withdrew his candidature and “gave his vote” to Khatskevich.

The prominent football specialist and the USSR champion (1982) Liudas Rumbutis discorded with the majority saying that “The head coach of the team should be over 50 years old”.

By the way, football fans were not so glad to hear about the new appointment. Their main “con” is the absence of coaching experience and high results in the coaching career.

And hardly anyone would argue.

 

Khatskevich as a coach

The first coaching experience Aleksandr Khatskevich got in 2007 in FC Dinamo Minsk when the club’s owner Yury Chyzh fired Pyotr Kachura, not having waited for the Belarusian Premier League opening. The reasons were failures in pre-season sparrings and a loss in the Belarusian Premier League quarterfinals. Aleksandr Khatskevich became at that time a player-coach.

Headed by Khatskevich Dinamo won only 8 matches and finished up in 9th place, which was the worst team result ever. But the young football players from Minsk outplayed Skonto FC, Riga (1:1, 2:0) in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. But then they lost to the Danish Odense FC (1:1, 0:4).

Telling the truth, after the off season changes Khatskevich got from Kachuro a very young team. And as we know, young players tend to be inconsistent.

In January, 2008 Khatskevich went with the Belarusian national youth football team (U-18) to the traditional FIFA Valentine Granatkin Memorial. The Belarusians were supposed to get prize medals, but the team became the fifth. And after that the young coach was replaced by the experienced one, Pyotr Miheev, who headed the team before.

In the middle of 2008 Khatskevich headed FC Vitebsk, having changed Yury Konoplyov. At that time the team was the fourth in the race, and many people were surprised by Yury’s leaving. With Khatskevich the team began to score more points than with Konoplyov, but all in all they got the fifth place, which was a success anyway. Moreover, Khatskevich started improving other club’s affairs, using his wide professional experience. But when FC Vitebsk got a new owner, the club lacked money, and in 2009 the team was competing to stay in the Premier League. Khatskevich abandoned the club with a scandal in summer, 2009, leaving the team in the 12th place.

After that Aleksandr Khatskevich stated that he was going to Kyiv leaving Belarus for ever. Then he became a member of the Ukrainian national football team coaching staff, where started helping Myron Markevych.

Furthermore, in December, 2010 Khatskevich became the youth FC Dinamo Kyiv coach. In the first year of work he managed with difficulties to stay in the Premier League, but then everything was going all right – in the second year of coaching his team became the 8th , in the third year they took the second place.

Having got silver medals in the youth Ukrainian Premier League Khatskevich was appointed the head coach of FC Dinamo-2 that played in the Ukrainian Second League. In the first year of coaching the team had no success and finished in the 14th place. Next season after 16 matches FC Dinamo-2 became the fifth, and in terms of points percentage the team was listed the 4th .

 

The way of interacting with football players

Football players who worked with Khatskevich at different times speak well of him. The coach was said to avoid shouting and to explain everything clearly. He could use an eye contact to show that he was unsatisfied with something. Khatskevich taught to play a clever game. He never had favourite players, and only players who met the requirements and played great at the training joined the team.

“All the time the coach demanded from football players to think on the field. It was a great value for him. He was telling that we could make an inaccurate pass, but the main task was to think well. Headed by Khatskevich FC Dinamo intended to play combination football, with a fast change from defence to attack”, – recollected FC Dinamo goalkeeper Andrei Klimovich who worked with Khatskevich at that time. Now Klimovich plays in FC Gomel.

By the way, in 2007 Khatskevich trained such young FC Dinamo players as Aleksandr Martynovich, Oleg Veretilo, Sergey Kislyak, Anton Putilo, Andrey Chukhley who now play in the national football team. Four of them went to play in foreign football clubs. It’s fair to say that Khatskevich helped them a lot to become professional players.

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Alexander Khatskevich in 2007

Picture: “Pressball”

Those players recollect team work with Khatskevich with pleasure. “Even seven years ago it was evident he had a good coaching potential. I think he became even better now. Moreover, at that time FC Dinamo players got on really well with one another. I believe Khatskevich is ready to start coaching in the national team. I support him. And in general, he’s a respected person. I share Sasha Gleb’s idea: we grew watching him play in the national team. Such players as he is were perfect examples for us”, – can’t stop praising Khatskevich Sergey Kislyak, a halfback of FC Rubin.

It’s also notable that being the coach of FC Dinamo Minsk Khatskevich trained a Russian goalkeeper David Yurchenko who now plays in FC Ufa. A talented Belarusian forward Vladimir Yurchenko also played in FC Dinamo at that time, even FC Zenit Saint Petersburg looked out on him, but the player fooled his chances away.

It’s interesting that when Khatskevich and Byalkevich grew up, finished their careers and became coaches they continued having a similar view on football. They only had different approaches to football players. “Valik is special. For instance, if he is not interested in a person, he won’t talk to him anymore. The same was with young guys. If a football player lacked pure football qualities, Byalkevich gave him no clues. We argued with him a lot about it, but Valik was sure that such football players were unteachable, and it was impossible to chance his mind. I had no chances advising him to be more sociable. “Sanya, don’t you know me well?…” Though we didn’t have any other reasons to argue. As for the other views on football, we agreed”, – said Khatskevich about Byalkevich.

In our case Khatskevich’s liberal approach is more convenient than his friend’s severe requirements.

 

Accused of a betrayal by Eduard Malofeyev

During the World Cup-2002 qualification, when the Belarusian national team was so close to qualify for the top-tournament, in Minsk there was a scandal after a home loss to Ukraine. The hotheaded coach at once found “goats”, having accused FC Dinamo Kyiv players Aleksandr Khatskevich and Valyantsin Byalkevich of having buried the match. And although the Belarusian team still had a chance to play in the World Cup, everything went wrong.

After a loss to Ukraine Eduard Malofeyev found “goats” having accused Khatskevich and Byalkevich.

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Eduard Malofeev

 

Khatskevich and Byalkevich always unwillingly commented on that conflict, but recently Aleksandr tried to explain everything in the interview to “Pressball”:

– We played a fair game and didn’t bury the match. And after that loss we still had a chance: had we defeated Wales, we would have qualified for the World Cup. Although Eduard Vasilyevich told us that Ukrainians and Poles had already agreed, they drew (1:1), and we lost. However, Valik and I didn’t play that match.

In that match against Ukraine Malofeyev changed me after the first time, Valyantsin left the field at 60’. Malofeyev told that he wouldn’t go to Wales with us. What should the federation management do after such an ultimatum? It’s not surprising they supported the coach. The next day we came to the base to have a talk with Eduard Vasilyevich. We didn’t want to lose an opportunity to take part in the World Cup. And even before the match against Ukraine we told him: “If you don’t trust us, don’t allow us to play. And if you allow, don’t make any questions”. Moreover, in that hot atmosphere the fact that Malofeyev and Lobanovsky had the opposite views on football played its role, that match was a certain continuation of their interminable controversy. But I don’t desire to go into details, speaking about their relationships. Thus, when we came to Stayki and told that we were able to qualify (we doubted that Poland will lose easily to Ukraine), Malofeyev repeated that he wouldn’t go to Wales with betrayers. Though, then we met in Minsk and talked well. I think the emotions faded away, and he managed to analyze everything calmly.

– How can it be that Ukraine didn’t make you any offers? If they did, I wouldn’t consider that nonsense, taking into account your long-time appearance in FC Dinamo Kyiv…

– In Kyiv we drew, and the players were great. Some of them played in FC Spartak, others – in FC Lokomotiv, as Valik and I did. And we realized that we had a chance to be in a big tournament. So we had no reasons to bury the match, and we were not asked to do that for money.

– But it’s an idea…

– At that time we didn’t lack money. Moreover, money is nothing comparing to the opportunity to play in the World Cup against the best football players. I don’t imagine anyone to lose such a chance, there is no sense in it. Moreover, everything hidden will be revealed. The money will be spent fast, but a person will live with a thought that he had betrayed himself and fans. So, we are not guilty.

 

Family is the most important thing

Despite his occupation, Aleksandr Khatskevich tries to spend much time with his nearest and dearest: “My family is my everything! I spend the overwhelming majority of my spare time with my wife and children, and only then I can go fishing, watch KVN and do the staff like that”.

Khatskevich met his wife Ilona at the cinema; the best Ilona’s friend introduced them to each other. At that time Aleksandr just came back from the USSR youth football team, and he was in his nice sports ware. Khatskevich joked that he did it on purpose to impress the girl. Anyway, Ilona was impressed by Aleksandr’s buoyancy and smile. Khatskevich made Ilona change her mind about football players. The girl considered football to be wild, and didn’t imagine she could talk well with football players. But Aleksandr broke stereotypes. One year passed and the young people married. They couldn’t avoid separations due to Aleksandr’s frequent trips, but it pulled them together: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

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Wife and children of Alexander Khatskevich

 

Aleksandr Khatskevich and his wife Ilona have two children: 21-year old Vlad and 11-year old Artyom.

He supported Kondratiev

After the draw against Luxemburg at the beginning of the World Cup-2016 qualification, the head coach Georgi Kondratiev was bothered by journalists, specialists and especially by fans on web-forums.

And Khatskevich supported Kondratiev before the match against Ukraine, while giving an interview to a Ukrainian newspaper “Komanda”.

– It was difficult to wait for something better after such a start. But this misunderstanding between the coach and the media will disappear, as soon as we achieve a good result. A good game, more points mean a good coach. Of course, Kondratiev is worried; he takes every failure, every negative comment close to heart. I know that after the draw against Luxemburg he was in hospital for some time, that’s why first of all I wish him to be healthy.

I didn’t play with Kondratiev, but I played against the team headed by him. And in general, we meet quite often, my parents and Kondratiev live at the same apartment building, in the next door porches.

Khatskevich even understood Aleksandr Gleb’s absence in the national football team, although he believes that “this player didn’t have the last say in football and that he will be in demand”.

– Resonance? Actually, yes. But it’s the coach’s decision. You should be inside the team to challenge it. Of course, I meet Aleksandr Kulich who is in the Belarusian national football team coaching staff, but it would be wrong to comment on the coach’s decision.

Gleb was often criticized for poor play in the national team, but there was another opinion, as sometimes he was said to outperform his teammates in skills and football understanding. All in all, only after two more matches we’ll understand whether the coach had made the right decision. And now we are to respect his choice. It’s all about the result…”

As we know, the Belarusians were unfortunate, and it’s evident that Gleb will come next time if he’s all right.

 

He’s not a social networks’ user

Aleksandr Khatskevich doesn’t have any social networks accounts as his age mates do, and he doesn’t understand other football players’ interest in social networks. On the other hand, it may be part of a defence reaction; it was Khatskevich who advised Kondratiev not to take everything so close to heart, including funs’ critics:

– I’m not registered in social networks. I do not need that. I don’t understand why guys are so crazy about their accounts after matches. It’s natural that we are praised when we win, but why should we navigate through Internet reading the news about the game we lost? We’ll not find anything pleasant. So, why should we kill the mood, getting negative emotions? And then get crazy, inventing how to shut the opponents down…

Georgi Kondratiev seems to depend on other people’s opinions, let it be journalists’ or forum users’ comments. I think he shouldn’t wreck his nerves, paying attention to those who hardly know anything about coaching. If you are sure that you do things right, you should not listen to others. Anyway I follow this credo.

It’s interesting, whether Khatskevich would like to know what his predecessors Georgi Kondratiev and Andrei Zygmantovich say about today’s national football team.

 

Text by TUT.BY

Pictures by sport.glavred.info, pln24.ru, Pressball

About Yana Yelina (30 Articles)
Yana is a fresh graduate of Minsk State Linguistic University. So it is not surprising she adores languages (English, Spanish, Italian). She's also a sports fan, and she won't lose an opportunity to watch some tennis/football/snooker matches. Moreover, she is nuts about travelling, dancing and reading.

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