RubinÃ¢ÂÂs reserves vs that one from Kazakhstan
Congratulations to Rubin Kazan.
Well, OK, to Rubin-2 Kazan, on their 5-2 victory against FK Aktobe in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs CIS Cup final.
Yep, the annual gathering to ascertain whoÃ¢ÂÂs got the best reserve team in the FSU is over for another year, and perhaps befitting a tournament dominated by kids, there were a couple of clowns in attendance.
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were both present in Moscow and whatÃ¢ÂÂs more, actually managed to spend the entire weekend in the Russian capital without spouting any nonsense.
B'n'P outflank the Russian Sports Minister
What the pair witnessed was RubinÃ¢ÂÂs youth team doing the seniors rather proud while they were busy lowering their handicaps on a golfing holiday in Belek, or a Ã¢ÂÂTurkish training campÃ¢ÂÂ as the Tatar side were calling it.
Inclement weather put a bit of a dampener on their preparations for the new season on the Mediterranean coast, but it still trumps a Russian winter.
NMTB was in fact rooting for the Kazakhs in the final.
They, like the rest of the Central Asian teams (Bunyodkor aside), had afforded the tournament a modicum of respect and Aktobe, who were also runners-up last year, could now have missed their best chance of winning the trophy.
The Russian Football Union has plans to meet to discuss how best to rejuvenate the competition.
And if theyÃ¢ÂÂve got any sense theyÃ¢ÂÂll use NMTBÃ¢ÂÂs blog from a couple of weeks ago as a template for the new format: rotate the tournament between countries, award decent prize money, merge it with the Channel One Cup and donÃ¢ÂÂt cram the 31 fixtures into nine days.
A $1 million jackpot for the winner has already been mooted, so maybe they do read Never Mind the Bolsheviks after all.
Perhaps of more concern to Aktobe is the prospect of losing Emil Kenzhesariev, the competitionÃ¢ÂÂs top scorer.
He helped himself to a goal in every round Ã¢ÂÂ thatÃ¢ÂÂs six in total Ã¢ÂÂ and the Kazakh rumour mill has been working, not overtime, but, wellÃ¢ÂÂ¦ just working, really, and it is believed several Russian clubs have expressed an interest in him.
It was a competition full of goals. Ninety-one of them, to be precise, which averages almost three a game.
Bahodir Nasimov, a 22-year-old forward at Luis Felipe ScolariÃ¢ÂÂs Bunyodkor, scored five Ã¢ÂÂ as did Igor Bugaiov, except the Dacia ChiÃ ÂinÃÂu striker got his quintet in just one match.
That was in the 6-1 drubbing the Moldovans handed out to the Pyunik Yerevan trialists from Armenia, whose form was abysmal, to say the least.
NMTB doubts (m)any of them will have earned a contract with the Bardzraguyn khumb champions after three straight defeats sent them packing at the group stages.
Still, all looks rosier for them on the domestic front as PyunikÃ¢ÂÂs new owner Samvel Alexanian, who happens to be deputy of the National Assembly, is attempting to push through a bill exempting Armenian football from taxation.
Berets should also be taken off to Vadim BoreÃ Â£s, who notched up a record 41st appearance in the CIS Cup this year.
He loves it. The 34-year-old Moldovan, who represented BakÃÂ± Futbol Klubu this time round, first played in the competition at just 16 for Zimbru ChiÃ ÂinÃÂu, and evidently enjoys spending the winter months in Moscow, rather than somewhere nice and warm on a golfing holiday/training camp.
One caveat vis-ÃÂ -vis the CIS Cup is the RFUÃ¢ÂÂs proposal to shift the Premier-Liga from its current summer schedule to a Western European-style winter one (as covered, naturally, by the Wall Street Journal).
The winter season could come into existence as early as next year if the committee can decide upon a feasible format that somehow circumnavigates the weather.
That may well impact on the future of a tournament NMTB still feels possesses a great deal of potential, if only the big teams would give it a chance.