Nenad Erić: Regardless of conditions we must play to win
Nenad Erić has been keeping goal for the tenth season in a row. All successes of “Astana” FC over the past years have been inextricably linked to the reliable performance of its fearless goalkeeper. In an interview Nenad Erić told how he rubs through the long pause in the Kazakhstan Premier League tournament caused by the coronavirus pandemic, what he thinks about Astana's prospects in this season and how he sees his future.
- Nenad, “Astana” has not been playing official matches for more than four months. Do you remember that such long breaks happened in your playing career before?
- The situation of this year, unambiguously, has no analogues. The whole world has faced such a problem for the first time, but I hope that everything will be fine, people will be healthy, and football will return to its usual rhythm.
- How does such a pause affect the morale of your team's players?
- Of course, it's hard without games. No training can replace a football match. But what can we do? Now everyone is in this condition. Although the moral pressure is not so much a pause, but rather the fact that no one can answer for sure when it will stop and we will be able to return to a normal life.
- What do you think about Astana's participation in the qualification of the UEFA Champions League? Will your team be able to approach the start of the European Cup in full combat readiness?
- At the moment it is difficult to answer about the team's readiness for European competitions. After all, we played the last official match in mid-March, plus we have players who are sick and injured. Nevertheless, now many football clubs in Europe are faced with the problem of lack of game practice, so we will try to neutralize this problem with our other advantages.
- By the way, about the disease. Some media and fans have linked the spread of the infection within your team to the fact that players were sent home. Do you think there is a connection here?
- Yes, I also read this opinion, which has nothing to do with reality. The football players who went home to return to Kazakhstan took tests for COVID-19, otherwise we would not have been allowed into the country. We all have negative tests.
- Now Dmitry Nepogodov is your main competitor in “Astana”. How would you appraise this goalkeeper?
- Dmitry is a very strong goalkeeper, like Stas Pavlov, Aleksandr Mokin, with whom we competed in previous seasons. “Astana” always has very strong competition, which, perhaps, is one of the keys to the club's victories.
- Sergei Maly moved to “Tobol” FC. Do you think your team's defensive line has weakened a lot after that?
- I really respect Sergei, who, undoubtedly, is a defender of a very high level, which he has repeatedly proved both in the championship of Kazakhstan and as part of the national team. But Astana” is a big club, which brings together strong players, so I think the coaching staff will find a solution how to replace Maly, so that this does not affect the result.
- You have been playing for “Astana” for 10 years, you are a 6-time champion of Kazakhstan. Looking to add another gold to your trophy collection this year?
- Of course yes! The club is faced with the task of winning the “gold” this season, and we will make our best to fulfill this task!
- Your contract with “Astana” will end in December this year. Do you already know what will happen next?
- First, it is necessary to resume the season and wait for its end. Then we will look at the condition and interest of the club. But I have said many times that, in any case, I want to end my football career in “Astana”, a club that has become my second home. But when this will happen, I cannot yet answer. I repeat once again: everything will depend on the interest of the club and my condition after this season.