As they take on FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Super Cup today, FC Dynamo Kyiv are determined to raise their game after six months under coach Yuri Semin, according to UEFA.

`Really important`

Having seen their arch rivals win both the Premier League title and the Ukrainian Cup last season, Dynamo are determined to get the new season off to a strong start in Poltava, with the start of their UEFA Champions League campaign – in the second qualifying round – in sight. "It`s really important for us to beat an opponent like Shakhtar," commented former FC Lokomotiv Moskva coach Semin.

Military metaphor

Goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy is equally determined as he looks ahead to the new season. "We have rich traditions," said the 33-year-old. "We are aiming for high goals in every game. Whatever people think, we are coming on the pitch with one task: to get a victory." He added: "A soldier has to dream of becoming a general or he is not good enough. I hope all our players think that way."

Young blood

Back in the spring, Semin revealed his intention of bringing more hungry young troops into the first team while moving some of his more experienced squad members away from the front line. Sure enough, Diogo Rincón, Cléber, Rodrigo and Goran Gavrančić have moved on, while Tiberiu Ghioane, Olexandr Aliyev, Artem Kravets and Miloš Ninković all proved that they are worthy of a place in the starting XI.

Ongoing process

That policy continued following the end of the 2007/08 season, with Vladyslav Vaschuk, Marjan Marković and Michael all leaving the club. Dynamo strengthened by signing Croatia midfielder Ognjen Vukojević and Brazilian defender Betão, Goran Sablić and striker Maris Verpakovskis returned from loan and academy stars Mykola Morozyuk, Roman Zozulya and Andri Yarmolenko have joined the first team.

Hungry side

By most estimations, Semin`s policy has been a success, giving Dynamo increased fighting spirit without any loss of class, with five wins, two draws and one defeat in pre-season friendlies allowing his new-look side to gel. "With these players I can achieve big goals," said the 61-year-old coach. "We have to win the league and the cup, while also showing our potential on the European stage."

By Ihor Lynnyk, UEFA