Ahead of The Nomads' UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round fixture, we take a look at our opposition, Shakhtyor Soligorsk.
Club Name: Football Club Shakhtyor Soligorsk
Nickname(s): The Miners, The Moles
Founded in 1961, the club originally played in the top or second division of the Belarusian SSR league before absorbing two other local teams, Khimik and Gornyak. Some of the club's best results came in the late 80's and early 90's as they finished as league runners up twice in 1988 and 1990, while winning the Belarusian SSR Cup three times in 1985, '86 and '88.
Since 1992, they have competed in the Belarusian Premier League and struggled in the 1990's, only avoiding relegation in 1997 after two other clubs withdrew from the league. Since 1999 however, they have not finished below 6th in the league table, winning the league in 2005 and finishing runners up in 2010, '11, '12 and '13 whilst also winning the Belarusian Cup twice in 2004 and 2014.
In 2017, the club finished third in the league table behind BATE Borisov and Dinamo Minsk with just three points separating the three sides (BATE and Minsk were only separated by goal difference). Soligorsk also reached the final of the Belarusian Cup, only to fall at the final hurdle, losing out 10-9 on penalties after drawing 1-1 with Dinamo Brest.
Shaktyor play their home games at the Stroitel Stadium, located in Soligorsk. The ground officially holds 4,200 spectators and has one large stand with a running track around the pitch in a similar fashion to the Deeside Stadium. The far side of the pitch is enclosed by tall yellow hoarding and the pitch is a grass playing surface.
Shakhytor first played in the UEFA Cup Qualifying Rounds in 2001 where they lost out to CSKA Sofia 5-2 on aggregate. In total, they have played 40 European ties through the Europa League, Champions' League and Intertoto Cup. They have never progressed hrough to the group stages of any UEFA Competition, with their best performance coming in the 2014-15 competition when they reached the Play Off phase having defeated Derry City and Zulte Waregem in the Second and Third Qualifying Rounds before losing out 3-0 to PSV Eindhoven in the eventual playoff.
The squad at Shakhtyor is heavily made up of Belarusian players with 16 of the 26 players listed on the club's website being native to the country. The average age of the squad is 25.4 with the youngest players being the 18 year old duo of defender Kirill Yankovsky and midfielder Max Ebong. The oldest player in the squad is 34 year old defender, Pavel Rybak. The side have over 10 capped internationals in the squad including Liberian, Christopher Jackson, multiple Belarusians, who have also represented Belarus at the Olympics as well as Albanian midfielder Elis Bakaj who made 27 appearances for Albania between 2008 and 2013 and joined Soligorsk in a €120,000 move from Albanian side FK Kukësi in 2018.
The side are managed by 59-year-old Russian, Sergei Tashuyev. Tashuyev took charge of The Miners ahead of the 2018 campaign. Prior to his arrival at Soligorsk, Tashuyev has managed a number of sides in the Russian second division with his two most recent jobs being at Kuban Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League and also at Anzhi Makhachkala. Since taking charge, Tashuyev had a shaky start, picking up just six points in his opening six games, however the side have since gone on a seven game winning streak.
We will be providing more build up in the lead up to our First Qualifying Round tie, so be sure to stay tuned to The Nomads' official website and social media channels.