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FOOTBALL EUROPE: Magnificent seven for Shakhtar

    23 January 2021 Saturday

    With FC Dynamo Kyiv looking for a new coach, FC Shakhtar Donetsk picked up the pace in the Ukrainian championship.Great record

    Seven games into the season, Mircea Lucescu's side are yet to drop a point, boasting the best goalscoring record, the meanest defence and, as a result, the outstanding goal difference (+14) in the Premier League.

    Not missed

    The absence of key forwards Julius Aghahowa and Andriy Vorobey has done little to dampen Shakhtar's ardour, with reserves filling the gaps admirably. Brandгo has top-scored with six goals, with Olexiy Bielik not far behind on four.

    New regulations

    A change in the rules governing the number of foreign players in each side has resulted in departures from Shakhtar in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa joined HNK Hajduk Split on loan, Cosmin Barcauan went to FC Krylya Sovetov Samara while Zvonimir Vukic will spend the season with Portsmouth FC.

    Shakhtar shuffle

    While Shakhtar have been offloading players, their rivals have been signing them. Dynamo drafted in veteran defender Vladyslav Vaschuk and Genoa 1893 defender Marjan Markovic while FC Tavriya Simferopol acquired Dynamo's Yuriy Dmytrulin and goalkeeper Vitaliy Reva on loan.

    Coaching quandary

    Dynamo's main concern is who will coach them for the remainder of the campaign following the departure of Leonid Buryak. Javier Clemente, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Paul Le Guen, Claudio Ranieri and Dick Advocaat have all been mentioned, as has national coach Oleg Blokhin.

    Kushlyk signs

    FC Zakarpattya Uzhgorod have finally filled the gap left by coach Victor Ryaschko's August dismissal, recruiting Petr Kushlyk who previously assisted Vitaly Kvarcjany at FC Volyn Lutsk. Elsewhere, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk coach Evgeniy Kucherevskiy and his Tavriya counterpart Oleg Fedorchuk are clinging to their jobs despite poor starts to the season.

    Bright Metalurh

    The same cannot be said of FC Metalurh Donetsk who have made a bright beginning. Olexandr Sevidov's side lie sixth in the table, but having signed one of Ukraine's best strikers last week, Olexandr Kossyrin of FC Chornomorets Odesa, could do even better, especially as last term's top scorer Sergiy Shyshchenko is still around.

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