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Dundee Fans Hopeful for Peace

Dundee United members training at their home stadium, Tannadice Park. Bill Boaden

Scottish side Dundee United will play against Dinamo Moscow on Thursday at the Khimki Arena in the second leg of its Europe League qualifying third-round match. The first match in Dundee ended in a 2-2 draw and saw a mass fight between fans; there are fears of more violence for the return leg.

Peter Sumadh, a Dundee United fan, was at the first match and wrote to The Moscow Times to offer his view of the game, and the violence that supposedly began after something was thrown at Dinamo fans.

If the number of buildings in Dundee that end with "gate" are anything to go by, then it may be appropriate for the Seagate, Wellgate and Overgate to be soon followed by "Piegate," after the first leg of the game with Dinamo Moscow, which was marred by a fight started by someone throwing a pie or a coin.

Whether it was a coin or pie that was thrown at Dinamo fans is immaterial, but what I can attest to, as a Dundee United fan myself, is the shock and embarrassment felt by all of us in light of the incident.

The irony that the offending projectile was launched from the club's Fair Play Stand is not lost on those who know the team's history. It was named after the award bestowed upon the club and its supporters by FIFA after the club's superlative European run in 1987, when the likes of Barcelona were swept aside and the fan's behavior was deemed exemplary.

With approximately 300 fans having shelled out for flights and Russian visas, we wonder what might possibly await us in the cauldron of Moscow, but we are hoping that the events of 1987 will be repeated for both fans and the team.

After the first match, I introduced Dinamo fans Vadim, Alexander and Victor to the delights of Drambuie and Tennents, and they were only interested in talking about a certain Dundee winger Gary Mackay-Steven, rather than any "incident." Seeing that Mackay-Steven shredded open Dinamo's left side, and more specifically Dinamo's new 19 million euro Hungarian winger Balazs Dzsudzsak, his reputation looks likely to grow.

The teams meeting Thursday night will have both played one game since their last meeting: Dinamo's 4-0 loss to rivals Spartak contrasts sharply with another man of the match performance from Mackay-Steven against Hibernian in a match that saw all three United strikers score in the season opener.

With the resignation of Dinamo coach Sergei Silkin, it will be an unsettled team that Dundee faces but we will be ready for the task.

Though happy to be there, whatever the result, the Arabs are proud of our team's recent performances. Perhaps more importantly, we are anxious to restore the good reputation of Scottish football fans and hopeful that the behavior of Moscow's finest will see footballs' sporting ways prevail. We will dance, we will sing, but we promise there will be no Scotch pies in tow.

Having exchanged details, I will meet up again with Vadim, Alexander and Victor. We are thankful for this, as we shall be armed with nothing but basic Russian vocabulary, enough, we hope, to instill goodwill as visitors to the city.

Our new comrades are promising to show us a good time and to help us out in Moscow. Though they answered many, there was one question that I did forget to ask: are there any pies in Russia?

Dinamo vs Dundee United. Thursday at 8 p.m., Khimki Arena, 24 Ulitsa Kirova, ­Khimki, Moscow region.

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