Rubin Kazan, a club that has came out of nowhere, in Russia and now in Europe. In 2001, Rubin Kazan were still plying their trade in the First Division of Russian football. Now things are very different.
At the end of the 2001 season, Rubin Kazan appointed Kurban Berdyev to the helm on a permanent basis, as the season prior he shared the head coaching duties with Viktor Antikhovich. This appointment has proved to be an undoubted success due to meteoric rise of Rubin Kazan over the past nine years. A devout Muslim, Kurban Berdyev is never seen without his rosary beads in public, and it is his commitment to this one time ‘lower league’ Russian club, that they find themselves mixing it with Europe’s big boys.
Despite some brief cameo appearances in Europe in 2003 and 2004 in the UEFA Cup and the Intertoto Cup respectively, Rubin Kazan were newcomers to the hysteria that surrounds the UEFA Champions League. By winning the Russian Premier League for the first time in their history, it gave Kurban Berdyev’s men a chance to play against some of the best teams in the world.
Shock: Aleksandr Ryazantsev gives Rubin Kazan the lead against Barcelona at the Nou Camp
Unfortunately, the shock 2-1 win over Barcelona was the only real highlight for Rubin Kazan in a campaign that was ended by Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.
“Even though we didn’t qualify, this has been an incredible experience for us” said Rubin Kazan coach Kurban Berdyev
The trials and tribulations of the Champions League proved to be too much for the Russian side but midfielder Christian Noboa believes, “the fact that we are in the Europa League is a good result”. When Rubin Kazan drew Israeli side Hapoel Tel- Aviv in the last 32 of the Europa League, it was a chance for them to show what they were capable of in Europe’s secondary competition.
Despite selling star striker, Alejandro Dominguez, to Valencia in the January transfer window, the Russians still possessed a potent strike force when it came to the first leg of their last 32 fronted by promising striker Alekzandr Bukharov.
It only took fourteen minutes for the deadlock to be broken by Bukharov who finished neatly after being assisted by fellow Russian international Sergei Semak. Hapoel Tel-Aviv offered little in terms of an attacking prowess early on which was capatalised on by the Russian side with Bukharov doubling the lead for the home side with another clinical finish. Rubin Kazan were cruising now against an experienced European side in Hapoel Tel- Aviv but they were not finished yet as midway through the second half, their talismanic captain, Sergei Semak gave his side a crucial third goal.
Russian Talent: Alekzandr Bukharov was the two goal hero for Rubin Kazan in their 3-0 win over Hapoel Tel-Aviv
A comfortable win at home for the Russian champions meant that a solid defensive display in Israel would be enough to put them through to the last 16 of the competition. That is what Rubin Kazan delivered despite some intense pressure from the Hapoel Tel-Aviv, especially from Brazilian Douglas Da Silva, but the Russians held firm for a 0-0 draw to book a tie against German side Wolfsburg who despite being in the bottom half of the Bundesliga, will test the credentials of this Russian side.
With a consistent nucleus of Russian talent forming the backbone of the Rubin Kazan side, it gives this club a chance of progressing far in the inaugural Euorpa League under the experienced guidance of coach Kurban Berdyev who, after nine years in charge, knows this upcoming club inside out.
If one team can, Rubin Kazan can.