WHAT’S on Georgia’s mind this week is pretty simple - unearthing another gem like Giorgi Chanturia.
The under-21 forward was on Barcelona’s books until joining Dutch club Vitesse last summer.
“Unfortunately we are missing three very good players here this week, Giorgi Chanturia and Valeri Kazaishvili who both play for Vitesse in Holland and another player who is with Dinamo Tbilisi,” Tornike ‘Tony’ Bakhtadze of Ace-Sports Agency told Times Sport from the team’s base at the Radisson Hotel on Sunday.
Chanturia joined Barcelona on loan from Georgian club Vake Tblisi but failed to reach an agreement with the Georgian club over the player’s permanent transfer to Barcelona, with some reports suggesting that Premier League club Chelsea had outbid Barca for the player.
After a great year at the Spanish champions where he played a crucial role in the Juvenil B’s triumphant league campaign, scoring 11 goals in the process, Chanturia caught the attention of clubs all over Europe. Vitesse are owned by the Georgian billionaire Merab Jordania.
Speaking of Georgia’s preparations for Elite matches against Mexico (last night) and Northern Ireland on Wednesday, Tony Bakhtadze said: “The team have been together training for a month for the tournament.
“We have no expectations but watched Mexico beat a local team on Sunday 6-0 and they looked very good, very quick. If we can beat them then it will be very good psychologically for our match against Northern Ireland on Wednesday.”
Tony said that the team endured a 14-hour journey to Northern Ireland which included a six-hour stop over in Heathrow but were excited about participating in the competition.
“The team has one player who plays in Denmark, the rest are from local Georgian clubs. The tournament will help us prepare for our first under-19 qualification match in November.”
The national fortunes of Georgian football has taken a dip in recent years but all that may now be changing with young Chanturia and co beginning to make names for themselves internationally.
After all the little country has given us some outstanding players such as Shota Arveladze of Ajax and Rangers fame and dynamic dribbler Georgi Kinkladze who was such a big hit when he played for Manchester City.