СSKA was the winning team at last year’s Gazprom Neft Cup, and the „army boys” are setting their sights high once again in 2014. That was the message we heard from the head of the СSKA Sports School, Alexey Povkh, and the СSKA-2003 team coach, Valery Cherny.
Alexey Povkh, Head of the СSKA Sports School
— It is a very serious tournament, because the organizers invite the strongest teams to take part. You could say that the Gazprom Neft Cup is the unofficial Russian championship. We are glad to take part in such a prestigious tournament.
— Is your team aiming to win the Tournament again?
— The challenge for every СSKA team is to win every tournament they take part in. If we are invited to play in a tournament, we never aim for less than first place. That is how we build winning spirit. We want every boy to be proud of his „army club player” title, so a victory is the only result that is good enough.
— This year organizers have increased the number of teams in the Tournament from 16 to 24. What do you think about that decision?
— The more children it brings together, the better the Tournament is. Quality of competition decides the winner, and the more teams take part, the better that principle works. So we are pleased by the increase in the number of teams. Of course, when designing competitions, we have to be careful not to overstrain the players. But this Tournament has excellent traditions and I don’t expect any problems. The Gazprom Neft Cup has always been well organized — the conditions for the teams are as good as for adult professionals, and that applies to the training process, the matches, and even the travel arrangements. So we are looking forward to a real festival of ice-hockey!
Valery Cherny, head coach of СSKA-2003
— Tell us something about the team we will see in this year’s Tournament. How is the present season shaping up for your players?
— The boys are working hard, they have a good attitude to training and to matches. This attitude has paid off: we are already guaranteed to finish the season in a Top-3 at least.
— What does the Gazprom Neft Cup mean to you, is it a serious competition, a friendly event, or part of the training process?
— The Cup matters to us. The teams are strong. It is a prestigious Tournament, both as regards the standard of competition and quality of the game.
— What tasks are you setting for your boys?
— It has been said time and time again, but I will say it once more — the only task for a СSKA team is to win. And that is particularly true, because our teams have always put in a good performance at the Tournament, and last year we actually won the Cup. We have a lot to live up to.
— Can players deal with that responsibility when they are only 10-years-old?
— focus the boys on every match they play, and they have plenty of will to win in themselves. They take every game seriously. If they lose, you sometimes see tears in their eyes. Everybody wants to win, and we are no exception.