Diakhate doffs his cap to Semin

Diakhate doffs his cap to Semin

Pape Diakhate paid tribute to coach Yuri Semin as FC Dynamo Kyiv continued their impressive UEFA Champions League progress with a 1-0 victory at FC Porto...

Pape Diakhate paid tribute to coach Yuri Semin as FC Dynamo Kyiv continued their impressive UEFA Champions League progress with a 1-0 victory at FC Porto.

Fulsome tribute

Olexandr Aliyev`s stunning first-half free-kick saw Dynamo earn their first away win in the competition in four years – a vast improvement on their last trip to Portugal, which ended in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting Clube de Portugal last December. Semin has steadied the ship at the 1998/99 semi-finalists since being appointed in January, and Diakhate was quick to pay tribute to the Russian for their turnaround in fortunes. "The influence of the new trainer has made a big difference," he told uefa.com. "He`s very experienced, knows his job and is passionate about the game but very patient with us at the same time."

`Learning and growing`

Semin`s back-to-basics approach has seen a few high-profile departures from the Valeri Lobanovskiy Stadium, and Diakhate`s view is that the coach`s choices have helped to engender a strong team spirit. "The club spent a lot of money last year and signed some good players, but spending money doesn`t automatically form a team," he reasoned. "The coach has managed to bring the group together and we`re learning and growing together."

First game crucial

The Senegalese defender believes that their display as underdogs against Arsenal FC on Matchday 1 provided the momentum for the subsequent successes of the Ukrainian league leaders. "I think that this year we`ve already shown that we have a better team than last year," he said. "We`ve already got some great results. Honestly, I think that with the first match that we played at home to Arsenal [which ended in a 1-1 draw] our performance gave us lots of hope for the following matches. If we are better, it`s because we`ve worked very hard."

Lost time

The former AS Nancy-Lorraine defender almost did not make the trip to Portugal but is determined to grab every moment of UEFA Champions League action he can after his first season in the Ukraine was blighted by a serious shoulder injury. "Frankly, I`ve been ill for most of the last week, but I missed a lot of matches last season with a bad injury so I`m very happy to be here and playing," he said. "The most important thing for me is for us to get through to the next round now." The 24-year-old is conscious that his assured displays are not going unnoticed by Europe`s élite, but stressed he is happy enough with life in Kiev for now. "If I keep playing well like I did tonight, it`s possible that I could go to another big club in Europe," he admitted. "But Dynamo is a big club and I still have lots to do here."

By Andy Brassell from Porto, UEFA

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