Maksym Koval 20 Goalkeeper Dynamo Kyiv Ukraine
2013 has been…
The best way for a goalkeeper to make an impact on potential employers? Keep a clean sheet and save a potential match winning penalty in injury time. And that’s pretty much how Maksym Koval caught the attention on Dynamo Kyiv when as just a 16 year-old lad breaking through Metalurh Zaporizhya, he kept the Ukrainian giants at bay. His performance was the talk of the Kiev fans following the game and he was soon snapped up by the club when they realized just how capable a young ‘keeper he was.
Impressive concentration levels and cat-like reflexes mix nicely with a cool, calm head. Koval has always been comfortable under high balls and in amongst strong, robust attacking players so he was a perfect match for Kyiv and their trophy ambitions. Moving to the club in 2010, he was used smartly by the club – playing in a select number of cup and league matches – before eventually earning the number one shirt in August 2012 from Oleksandr Shovkovskiy (only in spirit though; Koval remains number 35 on team sheets).
He has been able to learn under Oleksandr Shovkovskiy during his time in Kyiv and the experienced goalkeeper remains in and around the Dynamo Kyiv squad; playing on a few occasions. He’ll have played a key role in Koval succeeding him as number one at the club and we imagine will be a big supporter of the youngster making the national team shirt his own as well. How he’ll feel when Koval goes past his haul of 92 caps for the Ukraine will be another matter.
Since that show of confidence last season from Dynamo, Koval has gone from strength-to-strength and improved on his standing as one of the best young goalkeepers around. Whereas fellow members of The 100, namely Thibaut Courtois and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, will get more attention for their efforts, Maksym has been busy establishing himself in the Kyiv team. There are domestic trophies and European scalps for Kyiv to take and to do that, they need a goalkeeper the whole team can depend on.
They have that in the 20 year-old Koval. He’s superb in one-on-one situations and has put his experiences so far to good use.
It’s just a shame that the secure ‘keeper hasn’t managed to add to his Ukraine cap that was won in June 2012. Shakthar’s Andriy Pyatov is the man standing in his way and in truth, Koval has time on his hands. He can use his call-ups at the moment to adapt to the training methods on the national team coaches and accommodate himself with the traveling before having to be the nation’s number one as well. That will come soon.
He is – as the excellent Slavic Football Union described – the “closest thing Eastern Europe has to a world class goalkeeper right now.” There might be just a hint of local bias in that statement but we don’t think they are far wrong. 13 clean sheets and just 16 goals conceded in 23 league matches last season for a Kyiv side that finished 17 points off Donetsk indicates that their problems weren’t at Maksym’s end of the pitch.
There is little fault that we can find with Koval and his attributes; unless you really want to nitpick about his passing. He’s not quite up there with David De Gea or even Mathew Ryan for spraying the ball around the park but it’s enough to see him by; especially when he proves to such a rock between the posts when teams flood towards him.
There is a lot to like about Koval and the next qualifying campaign for the Ukraine national team should see the youngster installed as number one. Pyatov isn’t a bad goalkeeper but he doesn’t have the potential of Maksym and the Yellow-Blue would be enhanced by having him in goal now.
"Koval kept 13 clean sheets in the 2012/13 Ukrainian Premier League; three more than any other goalkeeper." - Opta
B Will be one of the very best within four years