ST. PETERSBURG, September 8 (RIA Novosti)
Zenit St. Petersburg are capable of lifting the Champions League within two years, the Russian champions’ goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev has told R-Sport.
Zenit’s greatest achievement to date in the competition came last year when they reached the first knockout round before losing to Portugal’s Benfica, the joint-best Champions League showing to date by a Russian club.
“It’ll be nothing surprising if Zenit win the Champions League in two years’ time,” Malafeev said.
“In any case, they’ll be saying that we can win the Champions League.”
The team’s recent development makes a sound basis to challenge for Europe’s highest footballing honor, Malafeev said.
“Everyone will assess the situation objectively: in terms of the game, the players available, the infrastructure, the stability, Zenit can challenge for victory in the Champions League.”
Zenit face Italians AC Milan, Belgium's Anderlecht and Malaga of Spain in the group stage of this season's competition, and start their campaign away at Malaga on September 18.
The St. Petersburg outfit's only European triumph to date came in the 2008 UEFA Cup, when a team featuring Malafeev beat Scotland’s Rangers 2-0 in the final.
Malafeev, 33, has spent his entire career with Zenit, his hometown club.
He won 28 caps for Russia before retiring from international football last month.
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