Babayan about the results against Ludogorets
09 aug 2023

Astana head coach Grigory Babayan commented on the first match of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League against Bulgarian Ludogorets.

- Well, of course, it was a difficult match. It was very difficult emotionally. Because we conceded first, although we had a sufficient number of chances. Before conceding, we had a large number of chances to take the lead. I don't know, the ball just didn't go into the goal. Yan Vorogovsky hit the crossbar again in the first minute. If we count the moments now, Timur Dosmagambetov could have scored three goals, Abat could have scored, Darbo could have scored. Against such teams like Dinamo Zagreb and Ludogorets, we created about 10-15 chances... We need better realization to feel calm in the second leg, but the guys didn't let us relax, unfortunately.

The game plan, to some extent, worked to 70%. We conceded a goal from a set piece, it was a childish mistake that we have no right to allow at this level. Then they didn’t stop playing, they stuck to their line and played to the end, I believe they deservedly scored two goals and won.

- Does Dembo Darbo score in training such chances from lethal positions, as in today's match?

- Of course, he scores. But I don't know what it is about. It's not just Darbo's fault. Yes, he had a clear moment where he did not score. It was close, a couple of meters to the gate. It’s the same for other guys, everything that works in training doesn’t work in the game. We work and we do not give up, because this is a serious opponent. Of course, we would like to feel a little more comfortable before the return game. We understand that this will be a difficult away match. In any case, we need to get some rest. We did not rest for a long time, we had a tight schedule. Now there is a short pause and it will be necessary to prepare for the return match with a very serious opponent.

- What is the reason for the fact that in the top three defenders Marochkin played central, and Tomashevich played left. Were you afraid of the right flank of Ludogorets?

- No, we started with healthy players, while Amanovich was not able to play with us. It was he who played on the left, and Tomashevich in the center. Therefore, this offset is due to this. In principle, we knew that Marochkin feels very comfortable in the center. I know him well from Tobol. There were no problems here. And Zharko can play both on the right and on the left, it makes no difference to him. According to the game, the first 30-35 minutes worked well. The last 15 minutes of the second half, well, not really. Because the opponent changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation. For these reasons, it was important that a pair of centre-backs win tops. Basically, it worked. In some moments, frankly, Condric helped us out. In general, I cannot be dissatisfied with defenders. Defenders also scored, this is also very important.

- Considering that Ludogorets has a natural grass pitch, will you train on a natural grass for a whole week? It's no secret that this is a problem for Astana.

– A very good question. Is there a natural field in Astana? Basically, they don't exist. We cannot prepare on a natural pitch. And we still have good conditions here. Therefore, we will simply arrive two days before the game and try to hold two training sessions, to adapt a little.

- You said that you are satisfied with the protection. But the same protection created moments for the opoonent. What is the reason for this, was there some kind of lack of teamwork?

- In any case, there is a certain pressure. We shouldn't forget the class of Ludogorets players. This is an absolutely European top team, which has been champions for 12 years in a row, every year in the group stages of European competitions. Of course, in any game there will be pressure. Another thing is important here, when you score the second, third goal, the team can let go. And we played to the end, there are moments, the implementation is lame. Either way, there will always be pressure. It is important that we did not concede the second goal from Ludogorets - this is also an advantage. There are not many complaints about the defenders.

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