Though Kurban Berdyev would see his Rubin Kazan team ultimately eliminated from the Champions League by Inter on Wednesday night, he was pleased with the route his side’s campaign took.
The Russian champions were downed by goals from Samuel Eto’o and Mario Balotelli, leaving them to consider what might have been as they clutched to the consolation of having secured a place in the Europa League.
“Just the fact that we participated in the Champions League group stage, this is a big step forward for our team and our football,” he told the AFP news agency after his side’s loss to the Nerazzurri. “It's very nice to be playing in a competition with teams such as Inter, Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev, and to be playing with them as equals.”
The coach indicated that he believes it is not just his own team who are slowly progressing. “If we pay attention to the way CSKA reached the last 16 of the Champions League, we can say that football in Russia is progressing,” he concluded.
This season’s adventure was Rubin’s first foray into the Champions League. Berdyev will hope that his men have learned some valuable lessons as they will be involved in the competition again next season, having wrapped up the 2009 Russian Premier League.
Robin Bairner, Goal.com