COME TO THE STADIUM WITH A MOUSTACHE!
Russia manager has bizarre request ahead of World Cup opener
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.’
Joker: Russia manager Cherchesov