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Belarusian National Football Team

Belarusian National Football Team in the UEFA EURO 2020 qualification
Belarusian National Football Team in the UEFA EURO 2020 qualification

Founded: 1989
FIFA membership since: 1992
UEFA membership since: 1993
Member association: Belarusian Football Federation (BFF)
Best position in FIFA ranking: 36th (February 2011)
Current FIFA ranking: 87th (February 2020)
Home stadium: Dinamo, Minsk, Belarus
Head coach: Mikhail Markhel (2019-present)
Maiden official match: Belarus 1-1 Ukraine (friendly in Minsk, Belarus, on 28 October 1992).
Biggest win ever: Belarus 5-0 Lithuania (friendly match in Minsk on 7 June 1998).
Biggest defeat ever: Austria 5-0 Belarus (UEFA Euro 2004 qualifier in Innsbruck, Austria, on 11 June 2003).

White Wings

In 2016, the Belarusian national football team got its own brand – White Wings. The brand was chosen with the help of the fans. The name was influenced by the stork, the symbol of Belarus, the book The Land Beneath White Wings by famous Belarusian writer Uladzimir Karatkevich, and most importantly, by the rich history and mythology of the country.

Along with the brand nickname, the national team also got a mascot. For several seasons it was a knight Vayar (warrior in Belarusian) wearing a cloak resembling wings and a beak on a helmet. In autumn 2018, the Belarusian Football Federation presented a renewed mascot ahead the UEFA Nations League. It is a winged robot Vayar holding a sword with national ornament. It has a red beak on its helmet and stork wings behind. The national patterns are also featured on the national team uniform.

In 2016 the team also received the anthem: the official song of the national team "Napered, Belakrylyya!" written by the famous national band NaviBand. A year later, the Belarusian footballers organized a flash mob in social networks to support NaviBand that represented the country at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev.

The White Wings group unites fans of the Belarusian football team in the popular messenger Viber.

In September 2018 the Belarusian football team presented ithe new uniform at the site near the National Art Museum in Minsk. The Belarusian football team will don it for matches of the UEFA Nations League and the 2020 UEFA EURO qualifiers. Home kits are white, with red and green patterns on the collar and sleeves. Away kits are red, with white and green patterns on the collar and sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green with long sleeves.

Milestones

Belarusian national football teamIn their first major international tournament, which was the 1996 UEFA Euro qualifying, Belarus were narrowly beaten 0-1 by Norway in Oslo in 1994. Further games against such sides as the Czech Republic and Norway did not bring any points either. However, the Belarusian football fans will never forget the day when Belarus registered a historic 1-0 success against the Netherlands at Dinamo in 1995.

Such decent start was marred by the World Cup 1998 and the Euro 2000 qualifications when Belarus collected the wooden spoon on both occasions scoring four and three points respectively. The highlight of the Euro 2000 qualification were Belarus’ two draws against Italy at home (0-0) and away (1-1).

World Cup 2002. Belarus vs Norway (2:1)Belarus showed the best ever result in top tournaments finishing in the third place in the World Cup 2002 qualifiers. Back than, Eduard Malofeyev’s Belarus appeared just behind Poland and Ukraine in their section. Belarus overpowered Wales, Norway and Armenia with the same score of 2-1 and hammered future group winners Poland 4-1 at Dinamo. Ukraine was the only team Belarus failed to defeat (1-1 away and 0-2 at home).

The 2004 UEFA Euro qualification was unlucky for Belarus again as they were pitted in one group with the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Austria and Moldova. Belarus collected their only three points of this campaign after a 2-1 home victory at Moldova in Minsk.

2006 World Cup. Belarus vs ItalyIn 2004-2005 Belarus’ start at the 2006 World Cup qualification gave hopes for a high group place. Belarus drew the away game against Norway 1-1 and blanked Moldova 5-0 in Minsk, which was followed by the 3-4 defeat at Italy. Despite the loss Belarus proved to the whole Europe that they are worth being respected. However, four consecutive defeats against Moldova, Italy, Scotland and Norway in late 2005 buried Belarus’ hopes for the third spot. Belarus finished that group stage fifth.

Bernd StangeThe qualifying campaign of the UEFA Euro 2008 was one of the most controversial in the history of the Belarusian football. It was the first time when the international specialist, Germany’s Bernd Stange, had taken over the Belarusian national team as a head coach. Starting his work with Belarus in 2007 he remained manager for four years. During the UEFA Euro 2008 qualification Belarus suffered four defeats at the hands of Romania and Bulgaria and, to make matters worse, endured a humiliating 0-1 defeat against semi-professional Luxembourg after a 90+5-minute against-the-run-of-play goal in Gomel, Belarus. However, the Belarusians recorded a solid 4-2 victory against Slovenia at Dinamo and won 4-2 against Albania away for the team’s biggest ever victory in the UEFA competitions.

UEFA Euro 2012. Belarus vs FranceThe most amazing is the fact that during the three qualifying campaigns (UEFA Euro 2008 along with World Cup 2010 and UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers) Belarus invariably came in 4th scoring the same 13 points on all three occasions. It has become a tradition that Belarus put up a solid performance against the weaker sides but do not manage to overpower top-class opponents. The highlight of the UEFA Euro 2012 campaign was the Belarusian historic 1-0 away triumph against France in Paris followed by the 1-1 home draw in the return.

2014 World Cup. Belarus vs GeorgiaIn the 2014 World Cup qualifying Belarus were drawn against world and European champions Spain along with France, Georgia and Finland. Belarus lost to Georgia in Tbilisi 0-1 and fell to France in Paris 1-3 with the Spain home encounter proving to be a 0-4 dismantling. The Georgia return match brought Belarus the first 2-0 group victory. Georgy Kondratyev’s Belarus succumbed to a narrow 0-1 defeat in Finland’s capital Helsinki and escaped the loss in the return match in Gomel, Belarus, with a dramatic late 1-1 equalizer. In the final two fixtures of the World Cup qualification Belarus were to face the Group I favorites, France and Spain. On 10 September Belarus hosted the French side and put up a great performance being in front two times but eventually lost 2-4. The ultimate qualifier in Spain ended in a 1-2 defeat on 11 October. However, taking into account the difference in class between Belarus and their opponents, the two last meetings left a positive impression. Nevertheless, Belarus finished the qualifying campaign propping up the Group I table with only four points from eight matches.

The Belarusians finished the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying round fourth in their group. The disappointing start (a draw with Luxembourg and home defeats to Ukraine and Slovakia) spelled the end for Georgy Kondratyev at the post of the head coach of the national team. Aleksandr Khatskevich replaced him. The Belarusians took three victories under his tutelage, yet placing far away from the top three, which were Spain, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification started for Belarus with a draw against France at Borisov Arena. Then again came a couple of big defeats to the Netherlands and Sweden and a home draw with Luxembourg.

After that, the post of head coach was taken by Igor Kryushenko, under whose tutelage the team played 27 matches, registering eight wins, six draws and 13 defeats. In the final World Cup 2018 qualifying standings the national team at the bottom of Group A (France, Sweden, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Belarus).

In the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League  the White Wings placed first in their group, which secured the playoffs with the chance for the UEFA EURO 2020 spot.

The team started the UEFA EURO 2020 qualification with four consecutive defeats, losing twice to Northern Ireland and also to the Netherlands and Germany. In June 2019, following the home defeats to Germany and Northern Ireland, Mikhail Markhel was appointed head coach of the White Wings. Belarus defeated Estonia (2:1) on the road as part of the UEFA EURO 2020 qualification with the new coach behind the bench. This was followed by a narrow defeat to the Wales in a friendly, a home goalless draw against Estonia as part of the EURO qualifying tournament. In the two other matches in Group C Belarus lost 1-2 to the Netherlands and 0-4 to Germany. Belarus placed 4th in the group.

The Nations League playoffs with four more spots on offer are the last chance to get to the EURO 2020. Belarus is in Quartet D. According to the draw, two semifinals will be held on 26 March 2020: Georgia v Belarus and North Macedonia v Kosovo. The winners of these two encounters will compete for the only opportunity to reach the UEFA EURO final stage on 31 March.

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