Interview: Shakhtar Donetsk and Israel forward Manor Solomon

Reigning Ukrainian Premier Division champions Shakhtar Donetsk currently lead the Ukrainian Premier Division by seven points clear at the top ahead of bitter rivals Dynamo Kyiv. Dynamo Kyiv meanwhile, who defeated Desna Chernigiv 2-1 in their previous Ukrainian Premier Division encounter, have won four of their last five matches.

Shakhtar Donetsk, however, have registered three wins from their last six matches in all competitions. Furthermore, Paulo Fonseca’s side, who have taken 51 points from 20 league encounters in the 2018/2019 campaign, have scored 46 and conceded just nine at the other end. Shakhtar Donetsk’s goals per game average this season (3.19) has furthermore witnessed the Ukrainian powerhouse remaining in very impressive form, whilst also registering an equally impressive 15 clean sheets this term. An exquisite volume of Shakhtar Donetsk’s goals have arrived in the final 15 minutes of the 90 minutes this season (17), whereas 64.8% of the Ukrainian champions goals have come thereafter the 65th minute in 2018/2019.

Shakhtar Donetsk, who finished third this season in their UEFA Champions League group behind English Premier League champions Manchester City and Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais, subsequently transferred to the UEFA Europa League by virtue of their third place finish during the group stages of the competition. However, the Ukrainian titans were eliminated in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 by Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt (6-3 on aggregate).

Shakhtar Donetsk, who have won the Ukrainian Premier Division 11 times in their illustrious history, post-Soviet Union era, defeated Chornomerets Odesa 1-0 away on March 2 inside the Chornomerets Stadium in their previous Ukrainian Premier Division fixture courtesy of a solitary goal from Brazil-born Ukraine international winger, Marlos.

Meanwhile, Shakhtar Donetsk’s next three fixtures are against: Karpaty Kyiv (March 10), Zorya Luhansk (March 16) and Dynamo Kyiv (April 3).

The Klasychne Derby, contested between Shakhtar Donetsk and fierce rivals Dynamo Kyiv on April 3, remains the much-awaited fixture on the Ukrainian Premier Division calendar courtesy of the two Ukrainian giants historical domestic dominance and indeed current race for the Ukrainian Premier Division title. 

Shakhtar Donetsk have won 54 trophies throughout their highly decorated history compared to Dynamo Kyiv’s vastly impressive collective haul of 85 trophies throughout club history. Elsewhere, Dynamo Kyiv have won the Ukrainian Premier Division an unprecedented 24 times compared to Shakhtar Donetsk’s 20 league titles.

Prior to Shakhtar Donetsk’s forthcoming Ukrainian Premier Division encounter with Karpaty Kyiv inside the 40,003 capacity Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv this Sunday, FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340 AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with Shakhtar Donetsk and Israel star, Manor Solomon, 19, to discuss the talented Israeli international’s main ambitions since joining the reigning Ukrainian champions during the January transfer window, coupled alongside Solomon’s thoughts on rejecting other high-profile European clubs to join Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as the promising forward’s targets for Israel’s forthcoming Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

Dean Perretta: Manor, what are the key expectations and ambitions for Shakhtar Donetsk in the second half of the 2018/2019 season?Manor Solomon: To keep trying to win every game and to win the championship (Ukrainian Premier Division) which takes us directly to the (UEFA) Champions League (for next season) and to win the (Ukrainian) Cup.

Dean Perretta: Shakhtar Donestk currently leads the Ukrainian Premier Division. With that being said, can you talk about the great importance in remaining highly focused and not becoming complacent regardless of Shakhtar’s healthy lead at the top of the league?

Manor Solomon: We have to be focused in every game. Every game is very important for the main goal (to win the Ukrainian Premier Division) and we know that if we start to lose points, Dynamo (Kyiv) could take the lead (at the top of the league) and we must give our best that it won’t happen.

Dean Perretta: Since your arrival from Israeli Premier League club Maccabi Petah Tikva, how would you describe the intensity and demands from Paulo Fonseca from a players perspective?

Manor Solomon: Paulo Fonseca and the (coaching) staff demand a lot from the players (at the club), but they help us to give our (fullest of) abilities and they try to teach you in every training (session) what they want from you.

Dean Perretta:  What were the main deciding factors in joining Shakhtar Donetsk and rejecting other high-profile offers from other European clubs?

Manor Solomon: I decided to move to Shakhtar (Donetsk) because that they made me feel that they really wanted me and I think that it’s a big club with a lot of goals and a club that participates every year in the (UEFA) Champions League or (UEFA) Europa League and I thought that it’s the right place for me to develop and to become a better player.

Dean Perretta: Lastly, Israel kicks off their Euro 2020 qualification campaign this month against Slovenia at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa followed by Israel hosting Austria at home. However, what are your overall thoughts on Israel’s Euro 2020 qualification group?

 Manor Solomon: I hope we will make some good things (happen) in this (Euro 2020 qualifying) campaign. I wish we will make Israel’s fans happy and I’m waiting for those (Euro 2020 qualifier) games this month (against Slovenia and Austria).

Dean Perretta

Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.