COME TO THE STA­DIUM WITH A MOUS­TACHE!

Rus­sia man­ager has bizarre re­quest ahead of World Cup opener

Daily Mail - - Sports - By OLIVER TODD

RUS­SIA shoul­der the hopes of a host na­tion and the Krem­lin to­day, but their man­ager was more con­cerned with mat­ters of mous­taches, James Bond and Triv­ial Pur­suit on the eve of their World Cup opener.

Stanislav Cherch­esov has plenty of rea­son for con­cern. His team have not won in 251 days — seven matches — and at No 70 in the world, they are the low­est ranked side in the tour­na­ment.

Rus­sia’s play­ers risk em­bar­rass­ing Pres­i­dent Putin on home soil but Cherch­esov, the bald, mous­ta­chioed for­mer Rus­sia goal­keeper, showed lit­tle sign of feel­ing the pres­sure ahead of to­day’s match against Saudi Ara­bia.

He joked with Bri­tish reporter James Dodd, mis­hear­ing his name as James Bond, and took a ques­tion on whether Rus­sia’s sup­port­ers should im­i­tate his mous­tache to back the na­tional team.

‘I don’t know what you’re on about,’ said Cherch­esov. ‘ But every­one come to the sta­dium with a mous­tache.’

Asked for his mes­sage to the fans, Cherch­esov told a for­eign reporter: ‘You would be hard-pushed to get around the labyrinth of the Rus­sian soul. It takes us a long time to start driv­ing but when we put our foot on the pedal, we go a long way.’

The hosts har­bour lit­tle hope of go­ing deep into this World Cup and yes­ter­day for­mer Manch­ester United winger An­drei Kanchel­skis sug­gested they are the worst Rus­sian side he has ever seen. Be­tween tac­ti­cal ses­sions this week, a team who pin their hopes on the tal­ent of 22-year-old CSKA Moscow mid­fielder Alek­sandr Golovin have been play­ing Triv­ial Pur­suit at their Moscow base. ‘Our mood is very good, we are ready to work,’ said Cherch­esov. ‘We did a lot of work in Aus­tria and we have reached a good re­cent level, es­pe­cially against Turkey (a 1-1 draw in a friendly last week) when we showed a bit of the game we want to play. ‘Any coach has to ac­cept crit­i­cism. I don’t read any­thing and stay fo­cused on my job. ‘We are try­ing to do what we’re do­ing. The fact we are get­ting crit­i­cised, that’s the world we live in to­day. ‘ We have to do ev­ery­thing to turn crit­i­cism into praise.’

EPA

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