Stanislav Cherchesov, the Russian coach has called for calm following his team’s 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in their opening World Cup Group A match.
Yesterday, Russia had its first win in football’s showpiece event since a 0-2 defeat of Tunisia at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea. It was also the biggest victory margin in the opening game of a World Cup since 1934.
This victory was of such a great magnitude that Cherchesov had to temporarily leave his post-match news conference to take a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin. After returning 3 minutes later, he said: “He asked me to share my congratulations with the team and told us to keep playing like this.”
When asked how the result made him and his team feel, Cherchesov replied: “It’s just the beginning. It could have been 1-1 and nothing would have changed.
“We need to get through the group. We won the first match in the (2017) Confederations Cup 2-0 but we didn’t get very far. This result shows that we are on the right track. But we should turn the page now and focus on what’s ahead.”
On Tuesday, Russia will take on Egypt and Cherchesov is expecting a tougher contest against the Egypt. He said he is still unsure whether star forward Mohamed Salah will play as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
He said: “We will watch Egypt in the next match (against Uruguay on Friday). We don’t know if Salah is going to play or not. This is a big variable. But with or without him they are a very respectable team. With him of course, even more so. The next game against them will more complex.”
Russia’s celebrations were tempered by an injury to influential midfielder Alan Dzagoev. The CSKA Moscow player was forced off in the first half with a suspected torn hamstring. He said: “We don’t know the complete picture considering how abruptly he stopped.”
“He was in severe pain and couldn’t continue running. His injury could be quite serious. He could miss the tournament. I don’t want to spread any incorrect news. Let’s see what the medics says We would be very sad to lose him because we don’t have many players at his level.”
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