Moscow Olympic Games : Great Expectations


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Soviet Union defender OLEG ROMANTSEV of Spartak Moscow, who later became the record-setting trainer of his old capital city club and also steered the national team of Russia to the final tournament of a FIFA World Cup, looks to settle the ball in front of France defender MARIUS TRESOR (5) of Olympique Marseille during the international friendly at the Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium contested on May 23, 1980.
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It had been a little while (1960) since Stalin’s footballing children had accomplished anything on the international stage. But, then again, U.S.S.R. national team trainer KONSTANTIN BESKOV had already earned the exalted military decoration, the Order of the Patriotic War, for his efforts on behalf of the Red Army during the Second World War. And, certainly, those at the highest levels of power in the Soviet Union were hoping that the 60-year-old Spartak Moscow boss could, once agian, rise to the occasion of a major global event.

Any optimisim would have been easily justifiable considering the five consecutive victories the Soviet Union reeled off to commence the calendar year of 1980. At the core of this new-look national team were five players from Beskov’s successful Spartak side, the Soviet domestic champion for the 1979 spring-to-fall season including the youthful but talented RINAT DASAYEV. The 23-year-old shot-stopper who would come to be known to some as “the Iron Curtain” had originally unseated the veteran ALEXANDER PROKHOROV, a reserve on the bronze medal squad for the U.S.S.R. at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, as the first choce of the capital city club before making his full international debut in a friendly against the German Democratic Republic in September of 1979.

YURI GAVRILOV had already been capped before Beskov had taken charge of the U.S.S.R. national team for the third time in his long managerial career in July of 1979. But it had been the astute Soviet trainer who had already brought the slender winger from intra-city rival Dynamo Moscow to Spartak in 1977. And it was under Beskov that the skilled left-footer truly developed into one of, if not the most creative playmaker in the history of Soviet football.

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National team trainer KONSTANTIN BESKOV, the former war hero who spent his entire playing career with Ministry of the Interior club Dynamo Moscow, was a member of the very first U.S.S.R. athletic team that ever showed up at the Olympics and, as such, appeared in both matches for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against eventual silver medalist Yugoslavia at the 1952 Summer Games hosted by Helsinki, Finland.
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Defender VAGIZ KHIDIYATULLIN of CSKA Moscow and midfielder VLADIMIR BESSONOV of Dynamo Kiev, who later transformed into, perhaps, the best Soviet left back ever, were a pair originally introduced by the previous national team trainer, NIKITA SIMONYAN. As for the rest of the 17-man Olympic team, though, the overwhelming majority of the U.S.S.R. footballers at the 1980 Moscow Games had gotten their international start as a result of Beskov. Altogether, nine of this lot would also be included in the Soviet squad which appeared in Spain at the final tournament of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Defender ALEKSANDR CHIVADZE of Dinamo Tbilisi was one Beskov ‘discovery’ who would eventually be honored as the Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1980. Chivadze and his Olympic backline constituent, TENGIZ SULAKVELIDZE, were both now less than a year away from triumphantly lifting the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with their Georgian club teammates in Duesseldorf, West Germany. Midfielder KHOREN OGANESIAN of Ararat Yerevan, who went on to earn 34 caps for the U.S.S.R. and shoot the only goal to defeat Belgium at the ’82 World Cup in Spain, was easily the best player to ever come from the Soviet state of Armenia.

The defending gold medalists from the Deutsche Demokratische Republik clearly sent a B side to the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. Czechoslovakia left most of its big guns at home after traveling to Italy for the 1980 UEFA European Championships and finishing in third place. And while Yugoslavia brought some bright prospects to the U.S.S.R., their inexperienced Olympic squad was also certainly not equipped with all of the country’s best available players.

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The national team of the UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS stands at attention just prior to the international friendly match with visiting Denmark at the Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium in Moscow on July 12, 1980, a little over a week before the start of the football tournament at the Summer Olympic Games hosted by the Soviet Union.

Left to right — Vladimir BESSONOV (Dynamo Kiev), Tengiz SULAKVELIDZE (Dinamo Tbilisi), Sergei ANDREYEV (SKA Rostov-on-Don), Revaz CHELEBADZE (Dinamo Tbilisi), Sergei SHAVLO (Spartak Moscow), Fedor CHERENKOV (Spartak Moscow), Yuri GAVRILOV (Spartak Moscow), Vagiz KHIDIYATULLIN (CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr CHIVADZE (Dinamo Tbilisi), Rinat DASAYEV (Spartak Moscow) and captain Oleg ROMANTSEV (Spartak Moscow)

On this day, the Soviet Union would win its fifth consecutive full international match on the trot with a 2-0 victory over Denmark on the strength of goals from Cherenkov and substitute VALERY GAZZAEV of Dynamo Moscow.

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