Who to follow in the M-Liga: two players filmed on YouTube, son of Enisey record scorer plays for Zenit

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After the first part of the M-Liga season, we get acquainted with its main characters.

Maksim Turishchev (Rostov)

Nineteen-year-old striker Maksim Turishchev is a Lokomotiv youth product. In the winter of 2021, he changed clubs and in the spring he made his debut for Rostov in the Russian Premier Liga, coming on in the 89th minute against Rotor on 17 March. In total, he has played three matches in the RPL. 

In the current M-Liga season Turishchev leads the scoring charts with 15 goals, having also played very effectively at youth level. In his debut YFL season in 2019/20, which ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the striker shared this title with Danila Sukhomlinov.

Turishchev is one of the most media-savvy players of the youth championship. He starred in challenges on the YouTube channel of the football bloggers team 2Drots, and in August 2018 he scored a hat-trick against another amateur club consisting of famous bloggers, Amkal.

Kirill Shchetinin (Rostov)

Rostov midfielder Kirill Shchetinin played at the Lokomotiv academy together with Turishchev, before moving to Zenit in 2019, from where he went on loan to Rostov in July 2021. In the first part of the season, the Turishchev-Shchetinin duo were responsible for 29 goals in the M-Liga: Turishchev scored 15 and assisted four, while Shchetinin scored four and assisted five. Thanks to such leaders, Rostov started with seven wins in a row, equalling the championship record for longest winning streak (13 matches) and are top after the first part of the season.

"We are good friends, we had a good bond, the same as now," Turishchev said in an interview with the RPL website. "I assist, he scores, he assists, I score. There has always been a good interaction with Kirill. We have talked and always kept in touch after he left Lokomotiv.”

At Rostov, the 19-year-old also graduated to make his first-team debut. Shchetinin has already played two matches in the RPL and once in the Russian Cup.

Danil Khromov (Rostov)

Rostov captain Danil Khromov is a club youth product and the team’s second-highest scorer eight goals, as well as five assists. This season, Khromov has played once for the senior side in the 2-0 Russian Cup defeat to Torpedo, and made his RPL debut in the summer of 2020 and even gave an assist. It was he who assisted Roman Romanov in the first minute of the game against Sochi, in which Rostov played their youth team and lost 10-1.

Stepan Obryvkov (Dynamo)

17-year-old striker Stepan Obryvkov, like Turishchev, is known for filming on the 2Drots channel. Stepan joined Dynamo at the age of seven and first trained with former club players Vladimir Smirnov and Vladimir Kozlov, and then with Philip Sokolinsky, the current coach of the youth team. Three months later, he left for additional training at Spartak and eventually stayed at the club for almost 10 years. In 2020, Stepan moved to Lokomotiv, where he made his debut in the YFL-1, and a year later returned to Dynamo at the invitation of Sokolinsky and scored seven goals in 10 games in the YFL-2.

In the current M-Liga season, Obryvkov  is Dynamo’s top scorer alongside Ulvi Babayev, both on nine goals. The striker admitted even during the breaks of matches, he reads messages from his father. "I always have my phone on my bench at halftime, and dad tries to write some moments that sting a little," Stepan said in an interview with FELIX FIFA channel. “For example, my positioning is incorrect, I am inert, I am hogging the ball a lot or lost possession a lot. It pours, I really like it."

Omar Popov (Krasnodar)

Krasnodar graduate Omar Popov is one of the top scorers in the M-Liga with 10 goals. This season, the player even made his debut in the FNL-1, but has played only one game. Popov raised eyebrows back in 2019, when he received the award for the best goal of the Krasnodar Academy at the end of the year, scoring with a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-esque backheel. In the 2019/20 season, the forward gave a good account of himself in the YFL, finishing as the team’s second-highest scorer with four goals and receiving a call-up to the Russia under-17 team. Already during that season, Omar made his debut not only in the Youth Championship, but also at senior level in the PFL.

Akim Belokhonov (Zenit)

17-year-old Zenit forward Akim Belokhonov is the son of Enisey’s all-time record scorer Vadim Belokhonov. Belokhonov started last season in the YFL-2, scoring five goals in one game and finishing on 30 goals in 24 matches in total to become not only the top scorer of the season, but also the league champion. At the end of the season, Akim received his first professional contract with Zenit and went to training camps with the main team, for which he played three times.

"We talked with Sergey Bogdanovich quite a lot at the training camp. He talked to all the young people separately, and gathered us together," Belokhonov said in an interview with Sport Express. “We went to a restaurant in Austria, Sergey Bogdanovich told us about his life, we got to know each other better. I like him, a real coach."

After training camp with the main team, Belokhonov gained a foothold in the youth team, and so far he has five goals and four assists in 16 M-Liga matches.

Danila Bokov (CSKA)

Danila Bokov is the son of ex-Armyman defender Maksim Bokov. At the same time, he also started his career as a defensive player, but a year later he changed his role. "It was winter, they were playing against someone, and his team’s goalkeeper barely touched the ball," said Bokov Sr. in an interview with the YFL website. "He froze, and the coach sent him to warm up in the locker room. The goal was empty, and Danya asked: ‘Can I?’. They answered him: ‘Well, why not?" He took the chance, put on gloves, and that's it - after that the goalkeeping coach said, ‘Come on, stay.’”

Last season, Danila played 22 matches in the championship for the CSKA youth team, keeping seven clean sheets and ending as champion together with his father, who helped Andrey Aksenov in the coaching staff. In the autumn Maksim Bokov left with Aksenov to train Tekstilshchik. Danila plays almost equally with goalkeeper Vladislav Torop. In four of his eight matches, Bokov has kept a clean sheet, and conceded five goals in total.

Vladislav Torop (CSKA)

18-year-old Vladislav Torop has played nine games this season, keeping four clean sheets and conceding 10 goals. Vladislav has been playing in the Youth Championship since the 2019/20 season, while also getting involved with the main team, and for the first time made a Europa League matchday squad. However, he made his actual official CSKA debut only this year in the Russian Cup against Metallurg Lipetsk, later also facing Zenit Izhevsk and both times keeping a clean sheet.

Eduard Bagrintsev (CSKA)

CSKA winger Eduard Bagrintsev first played in the Youth Championship back in the 2019/20 season after playing in the YFL, and now he is one of the most effective M-Liga players: he ranks second in number of take-ons (58), on average crossing from the flank at least three times per game - the most in the championship. 

Also, the midfielder is fourth in the M-Liga in terms of the number of dribbles (124). Like Torop, Bagrintsev made his debut for the main team in the Russian Cup in September, and in October, for the first time in a year and a half, he received a call-up to the national youth team, which he helped reach the elite round of Euro 2022, where he played three matches and scored two goals.

Timur Galimzyanov (Khimki)

Khimki midfielder Timur Galimzyanov is spending his first season with the Moscow region club. He played for UOR No. 5 in the YFL in the 2019/20 season, making his debut the following year in the youth championship where he scored 10 goals, and in the off-season he moved to Khimki. However, he did not finish the first part of the season due to a serious injury sustained in the matchday 15 clash against Krasnodar. In 12 games, Timur had a hand in 18 goals (scored 12, assisted six) and now ranks third in the goalscoring race.

Mikhail Pilipenko (Spartak)

Spartak graduate Mikhail Pilipenko played for the Red-Whites in the debut season of the YFL. In six games, he scored once and made five assists, while the following year he played not only in the YFL, but also in the Youth Championship. This season, Pilipenko is Spartak’s top scorer with five goals in 18 games, and he also scored five assists.

Also in the M-Liga

Egor Eliseenko from Lokomotiv repeated Alan Gatagov's feint in the match against Zenit, and did it better than Alan; his feint led to a goal.

Another technical player from Lokomotiv is Aleksey Larin. He did not just tease the Krasnodar defenders and score, he earned three points with his goal.

Nizhny Novgorod weren’t contenders to win the M-Liga, but ended the year with a beautiful victory over the Konoplev Academy and a magnificent goal by Nikolay Akhremenko.

Krylia Sovetov not only went undefeated for 11 straight games (8 wins, 3 draws), but also scored beautifully. For example, Danila Romanov performed this somersault in the match against Strogino.

Alex Radjabov from Rubin scored beautifully and celebrated just as coolly; here is an example from the match against the Konoplev Academy.

Two coaches of M-Liga teams are former UEFA Cup winners as players; Zenit’s Konstantin Zyryanov and CSKA’s Roland Gusev. Zyryanov won the trophy in 2008 with the Blue-White-Sky Blues, and has been coaching the youth team since 2018. Gusev lifted the trophy with the Armymen in 2005, and started working with the youth team only in October 2021 after the departure of Andrei Aksenov. Incidentally, another champion coach working at Chertanovo is Vladimir Skokov, who won the Under-17 Euros 2013 as an assistant.

Photo: press services of M-Liga clubs


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