FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov urges team to ignore critics

Jun 14, 2018, 09:23 IST | AFP

Newspaper headlines are asking not whether Russia stand a chance of lifting their first World Cup trophy but if things can possibly get any worse

FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov urges team to ignore critics
Russian players train on the eve of their World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia at Moscow yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has told his team to ignore media criticism ahead of today's World Cup kick-off against Saudi Arabia and focus on winning. The host nation enter their first home World Cup in the worst possible form. They have beaten both Russian and Soviet records by going winless in seven matches and slumping to 70th in the world, the lowest of the 32 teams in the tournament.

Newspaper headlines are asking not whether Russia stand a chance of lifting their first World Cup trophy but if things can possibly get any worse. "We have to take all the criticism and turn it into something positive," Cherchesov said. The 80,000-seat arena has been rebuilt from the days it hosted the 1980 Olympics and will be the venue of both kickoff and the July 15 final.

Russia coach Cherchesov
Russia coach Cherchesov

Russia have not tasted victory in eight months, but Cherchesov promised that everything will look different should Russia manage to beat Saudi Arabia. "The first game will be important one because it will leave its stamp on the entire campaign," the former Russian goalkeeper said. "Every player knows that he represents his country and will give everything for the win." Russia play their second match against Egypt on June 19 in Saint Peterburg and finish off Group 'A' play against two-time World Cup champions Uruguay on June 25.

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