21 Goalkeeper Hoverla Uzhgorod (on loan from Dynamo Kyiv) Ukraine
2014 has been...
We’ve always been fans of Maksym Koval. This is his third review as part of The 100 and in the previous two we’ve tried our best to temper his eventual rise to stardom. As a goalkeeper he possesses everything required to become one of the best in the world. He stands over six feet tall and will never have questions raised about lacking physicality thanks to a strong, imposing frame. He has lightning quick reactions and has more speed around his area than said frame suggests he might.
Maksym is self-confident, agile, excellent in one-on-one situations – as proven by his impressive record at stopping penalties – and brave enough to take risks when needed. He should be being talked about in the same breath as David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois as the new breed of goalkeeping supremos taking over the game.
Unfortunately, it still hasn’t clicked into place for Koval. Last season appeared like a Eureka moment in his career as he finally started to feature more and more for the first team. He’d broken through at Dynamo Kyiv, having moved there thanks to a pretty special performance against them when playing for Metalurh Zaporizhya, and was being used in the majority of the club’s league matches. The number one shirt appeared to have been finally passed from the great Oleksandr Shovkovskiy on to his rightful heir in Koval.
However, things have really gone backwards since last year and Koval currently isn’t even part of Kyiv’s first team squad. Instead he has spent the season on loan with Hoverla Uzhgorod – doing pretty well might we add – but it is clear that the new manager Serhiy Rebrov, yes Andriy Shevchenko’s mate, doesn’t rate Koval as highly as he really should.
Rebrov was appointed in April but despite giving Koval an opportunity in his first few matches as boss, he has reverted back to 39 year-old Shovkovskiy for 2014/15.
Appointed on the back of a 0-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk, Rebrov is under pressure to dominate Ukrainian football; pure and simple. To do that he is obviously trying to avoid too many risks and instead of encouraging Maksym Koval to reach his potential and become vital to Kyiv’s cause, he has instead trusted in both Shovkovskiy and 27 year-old Oleksandr Rybka.
Rybka returned from a two year drugs ban in January and has been battling for the number one shirt ever since. With both men having vast amounts of experience compared to Maksym, Rebrov is always going to plum for them, especially in the short term as he tries to establish himself at the club.
It’s a shame for Koval and we can only hope a worthy club is paying attention. He has done a fine job with Hoverla so far; conceding just 12 goals in 11 league appearances for a team at the wrong end of the table is pretty good. In their other three league matches this season, they have shipped eight. It’s obvious to us that if he isn’t playing for one of the big two in the Ukraine leagues, he needs to be playing elsewhere and competing for places in European competitions.
Last year we speculated that Koval would comfortably go past Shovkovskiy’s haul of 92 caps for the Ukraine national team after a year of working his way into the number one jersey. Now, we are less sure as he is allowing things to become stale. A big 12 months lies ahead as he tries to get back on track with a team capable of matching his incredible potential.
“Clearly not in Rebrov’s plan and has been farmed out on loan when he has looked really good. Any club in need of a capable goalkeeper would be made to pass up the chance on a guy Barcelona were monitoring before they tied up Marc-Andre ter Stegen. A top level goalkeeper just needing someone to put their faith in him.” – Ryan Keaney
"Maksym Koval has conceded just 12 goals in 11 league matches with Hoverla Uzhgorod." - OptaJoe
D It’s starting to go wrong.
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