CSKA'S WIN IN UEFA CUP SEMIFINALS REVIVES HOPE FOR RUSSIAN SOCCER'S INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS

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MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti's Sergei Kuznetsov) - CSKA Moscow's confident 3-0 win in yesterday's UEFA Cup seminal match against Parma has revived hopes that Russian soccer will soon be able to pull out of its current crisis and raise its profile in the international arena, argues Yuri Sevidov, a former player of Spartak Moscow.

Yet, it is too early to talk about CSKA's overall success at this point in time, Sevidov noted in an exclusive RIA interview. "This triumph was a timely one; it has helped strengthen Russian soccer's positions in Europe and in the world at large. But it's still too early to talk about all-out success now. Talking about it will make no sense until May 18, the day the UEFA Cup finals are set for. Traditionally, only clubs that actually win trophies go down in history while finalists sink into oblivion two or three years afterward." he pointed out. He also said he was hopeful that Russia's national squad will look at CSKA for inspiration and follow suit.

"Several of the CSKA players are on the national team, so this may have a positive impact on the situation in the squad as well," he said. Brazilian half-back Daniel Carvalio, who scored two of the three goals in CSKA's May 5 semifinal return leg against Parma, pointed out after the game that the entire team deserved to be qualified for the UEFA Cup finals.

"I know that CSKA is the first Russian team to have made it into the UEFA Cup finals," Carvalio said. "But I cannot take all the credit for myself. Each and every player without exception worked hard on the pitch, and I believe that they all deserve to go down in the annals of Russian soccer history." With all his modesty, the Brazilian did highlight the importance of the two goals he himself had scored in the semifinal second leg. "I believe those two goals were the most important ones in my whole career," he said.

Despite Parma's loss in Moscow, Italian fans have not given up the hope of seeing their favorite team play in the UEFA Cup finals. They are praying that the outcome of yesterday's game will be invalidated in view of the fact that a firecracker thrown by a CSKA fan from the stands hit the Parma goalkeeper, making him go off the pitch. The score was still 1-0 at that point. If such a thing happened in Italy, the match would be immediately suspended and the team whose fans were to blame would be declared the loser, with 3 points off its tally, regardless of the game's actual score.

The UEFA rules are more lenient than that, but commenting on yesterday's firecracker incident, the ANSA agency remarked that the Moscow club would have to wait for another 48 hours before it became clear whether or not they had advanced into the finals.

Parma and their fans are hopeful UEFA referees will rule in the Italians' favor.

CSKA Moscow, coached by manager Valery Gazayev, beat Parma in yesterday's second-leg home semifinal, 3-0. The CSKA-Parma first-leg semifinal ended in a goalless draw. In the final match, due in Lisbon on May 18, the Moscow club is to play Portugal's Sporting.

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