Mark Temnycky –
On August 14, Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv announced the departure of manager Aleksandr Khatskevich. The Belarusian had been with the club since 2017.
During his tenure, the White-Blues won two Ukrainian Super Cup titles but finished as runners up to rivals Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Ukrainian Premier Liha seasons. Moreover, since Khatskevich’s appointment in 2017, the Belarusian failed to see his side qualify for the UEFA Champions League via the qualification route on three attempts.
His lowest point with Dynamo came in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League season. Having missed out on Champions League contention, Dynamo were dumped into the Europa League. They would win their group, albeit did not face much opposition, and overcame Greek club Olympiacos in the Round of 32, though not in convincing fashion. Dynamo were then paired with English club Chelsea in the Round of 16, where they were embarrassed 8-0 on aggregate.
Unfortunately for Khatskevich, his final blunder came in the third round of the 2019/20 Champions League qualifiers. Dynamo were paired with Club Brugge from Belgium. Due to an error in Khatskevich’s tactics, Dynamo saw a narrow 1-0 loss on the road, but the result meant they were very much alive in the tie.
In the second leg, Dynamo took an early 1-0 lead in the first half, and it seemed as if the Ukrainians would reverse the tie. As the match progressed, however, Dynamo would defend poorly, and Khatskevich mistimed substitutions. Due to these errors, the match concluded 3-3. The Ukrainians had an opportunity to extend their lead on numerous occasions, particularly when they led the match 2-1 for thirty minutes, but Dynamo’s lack of finishing saw them falter in the end. Most important, Dynamo goalkeeper Denys Boyko should have done better with two of Brugge’s three goals. Had the goalkeeper saved these attempts, the Ukrainians could have advanced to the Champions League playoffs on another day.
Dynamo have taken the easy way out by sacking manager Khatskevich, but his departure has revealed a series of problems that have remained in place since the departure of former manager Serhiy Rebrov. Dynamo recently signed striker Gerson Rodrigues and midfielder Carlos de Pena, yet neither the Luxembourg nor Uruguay international started in the first leg of this Champions League qualification tie. Moreover, Captain Serhiy Sydorchuk and veteran Denys Harmash were benched in the second leg. Finally, goalkeeper Boyko and defender Tamás Kádár continue to have blunders in major competitions, and their errors have costed their club on several occasions.
The Summer 2019 Transfer Window has ended for Dynamo, but many questions will be asked about the players. Should Dynamo hope to return to the Champions League next season, they will at a minimum need a new experienced head coach, another attacking midfielder, a better goalkeeper and a more composed centre back. Otherwise, if these areas are not addressed, Dynamo will continue to decline on the international stage.
Mark Temnycky is an accredited AIPS journalist who reports on the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Outside of the Futbolgrad Network, he covers Manchester City for SB Nation’s Bitter and Blue. Follow him @MTemnycky