Putin crit­i­cal of Rus­sia’s soc­cer team ahead of World Cup

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Rus­sia's na­tional soc­cer team is of­ten at­tacked for poor per­for­mances but play­ers will be pay­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to their lat­est critic.

With the 2018 World Cup hosts strug­gling on the field, Vladimir Putin isn't amused.

The Rus­sian pres­i­dent said "to be hon­est, we haven't seen beau­ti­ful play from the na­tional team for a long time." Putin also com­pared its per­for­mance with Rus­sia's "pleas­ing" ice hockey team.

Speak­ing two days af­ter Rus­sia lost 2-1 to Qatar in a friendly be­tween the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, Putin's re­marks were re­ported by state news agen­cies yes­ter­day dur­ing a fac­tory visit.

Rus­sia has won just one of its last 10 games and crashed out of this sum­mer's Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship with­out win­ning a game. That prompted the res­ig­na­tion of coach Leonid Slut­sky, but things haven't picked up un­der his re­place­ment Stanislav Cherch­esov, whose four games in charge have in­cluded a draw with Turkey and de­feat to Costa Rica.

De­spite all this, the team has been set a tar­get of reach­ing the semi­fi­nals in 2018.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern for Cherch­esov is the need to re­vi­tal­ize a team which was among the old­est at Euro 2016, amid a lack of ob­vi­ous young tal­ent. In a sign of the au­di­tion process un­der­way, the cur­rent squad in­cludes five in­ex­pe­ri­enced cen­tral de­fend­ers, none of whom have played more than four times for Rus­sia.

Re­crim­i­na­tions fol­lowed the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship cam­paign when two play­ers were dis­ci­plined af­ter be­ing filmed par­ty­ing in a Monaco night­club with cham­pagne as the Rus­sian an­them played, fol­low­ing their team's elim­i­na­tion from the tour­na­ment.

Rus­sia's next game is a friendly against Ro­ma­nia on Tues­day in Grozny, the cap­i­tal of the Rus­sian re­gion of Chech­nya. It will be the first Rus­sia game to be played in Chech­nya, where UEFA has pre­vi­ously banned Euro­pean com­pet­i­tive matches from be­ing held due to se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.