25 years ago, on 29 February of 1996 Valmiera Football Club was founded. At the cradle of the club were Imantis Saulitis (its president), Guntars Melecis, and the team’s first head coach, Yevgeny Katayev.
After a quarter century, the club’s highest success has been achieved: last year, the team took 3rd place in the Optibet futbola Virslīga tournament. Before the new season, only the highest goals – victory in the Latvian championship and good performance in the European club competitions – are being set.
Valmiera’s football fans will see a well updated team headed by coach Tamaza Pertia during the new season. Even younger, even faster and more talented, too.
In the preseason, a great deal of work had been invested, preparations started on January 10 following by a Turkey training camp in February. Last steps till the season opening match on March 14 (away vs RFS, 15.00) were completed in Valmiera.
From the last season, the team has maintained its core players — Vlad Eleferenko (Russia), Alvis Jaunzems, Pape Yare Fall (Senegal), Luka Gadrani and Luka Silagadze (both Georgia), Daniels Balodis, Victor Diagne (Senegal), Jorge Teixiera (Portugal), Mootez Zaddem (Tunisia), Vladimirs Stepanovs, Ēriks Punculs, Djibril Gueye and Alioune Ndoye (both Senegal). A number of domestic players has made a jump from reserves team closer to the first team, such as left back Rūdolfs Zeņģis, the comprehensive Kārlis Zvirbulis, only the 17-year-old Artūrs Bērziņš, Māris Barkovskis, Daniils Skopenko and Ingars Pūlis (who unfortunately fractured his collarbone in Turkey). Kristers Lūsiņš, who went on a season long loan to FC Metta, can also be added to this company. A similar story is with a Kristaps Liepa, who will be on a loan till summer in the Czech second league club FC MAS Taborsko.
Now let us introduce you with the new members of the club. Starting with the goalkeepers. Clubs senior goalie Eleferenko will meet a competition with his younger (18) countryman from Russia, Denis Popov. This guy owns a Russian Premier League record in terms of the number of saves in one game (15!!!), it was set on 19 June last year, when he has forced to defend the Rostov club goal in the game against Sochi (1:10), after the whole of the main Rostov squad had been quarantined and therefore had to play with the academy players. One of the tallest Latvian goalkeepers, Reinis Reinholds (201 cm, 23 years) and Rihards Matrevics (202 cm, 21), also joined the team. Reinis returned from Italy after several years of his career there, similar story is with Rihards who played for different clubs in England before joining Valmiera.
The defence line will be strengthened by the right back Maksims Toņiševs (20, played on a loan from RFS in Daugavpils last year), Valery Chupin (an 18-year-old talent from Russia) and his countryman, 19-year-old central defender Viktor Aleksandrov.
On the midfield line a very interesting additions has been gained in persons of 20 years old Japanese player Daisuke Yokota and his peer, Ukrainian defensive midfielder Ivan Zhelizko. Well, we remember Shunsuke Nakamura’s football skills show in front of Valmiera supporters two years ago, and then there are all the preconditions for Daisuke to be even better than his countryman, thanks to whom he appeared in Valmiera. As far as Zhelizko (185 cm) is concerned, this young man, who has been regularly invited to his country’s youth NT and also took part by playing there, could prove to be the key player of the new season in the Pertia playbooks. The competition in the midfield line will also be formed by Jēkabs Lagūns (19), who has been loaned in from the RFS football club.
The very promising view opens up in the offense, with the loudest signing in Latvian football this preseason Raimonds Krollis (19) in front. Alongside him, the 20 years old Senegal forward, Ibrahima Sow has already shown his skills in finishing by scoring 8 goals in the preseason matches. On the right wing of attack 19 years old Columbian Camilo Mena will live up with the high expectations put on himself. His peer from Russia, Svyatoslav Kozhedub (FC Spartak Moscow academy) and Senegalese Meissa Diop (18) will be a great addition to the fast Valmiera attacking line.
The test games in Turkey against strong opponents such as FC Zorya (1:0), FC Lviv (1:1), FC Olexandriya (1:3) and FC Qyzyljar (3:2), not only in terms of the result but mostly in terms of the game quality shown, raised reasonable expectations ahead of the upcoming season, where at the beginning of it we will face RFS (away on March 14, 15.00), followed by a league’s newcomers FC Noah Jurmala (VOC, March 19, 17.00), FK Ventspils (VOC, April 3, 17.00) and FK Liepaja (away, April 8, 17.00). Nothing has changed in terms of attending the games — rules in use during the state of emergency are still not allowing supporters to attend the games. You’ll have to follow the games of your favorite teams through TV broadcasts.
Let us all have a successful year! Stāv Pāri Visam Valmiera!