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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Battles Vladikavkaz On and Off Soccer Pitch

The final of the Commonwealth Cup soccer tournament at CSKA's indoor arena Saturday afternoon promises to be a matchup of Dinamo Kiev's physical game against Spartak Vladikavkaz's technical ability.


What makes the match even more intriguing than simply a clash of soccer styles is the fact that Vladikavkaz tried to lure away Kiev's best players last October, after Dinamo was disqualified from the European Champions' League.


Spartak boss Valery Gazzaev made substantial offers for, among others, Dinamo's top strikers, Viktor Leonenko and Andrei Shevchenko, but came back from Kiev empty-handed.


"The team is not for sale," Dinamo president Grigory Surkis said matter-of-factly Thursday. "There was no discussion about the price."


The two teams also took contrasting paths to the final. Top-ranked Spartak, which barely broke a sweat in five matches, scored 24 goals, allowing none.


The Russian champion finally had some resistance in the semifinal against Skonto Riga on Thursday. Mirdzhalol Kasymov opened the scoring from a free kick in the 58th minute, but the outcome of the rough affair, with each side receiving three cautions, was decided only when Sergei Derkach made the score 2-0 with one minute remaining.


"If the referee had acted as he should have done, both teams would have finished the game with seven players," said Alexander Starkov, Skonto's coach. "It was a very physical game from both sides and we came out on the short end."


Gazzaev was more concerned with injuries to his team. "We need our best guys healthy for the final," he said.


Dinamo Kiev, on the other hand, had a more difficult road to the final, outscoring its opponents 13-3. On Thursday the Ukrainians played probably their best match of the tournament thus far against Dinamo Minsk, winning 4-0.


"We're finally getting accustomed to the indoor surface," said coach Josef Sabo. "We came here with high hopes and so far we're on the right track."


The final is at 3 p.m. Saturday.