Smolov hoping for finals legacy
RUSSIA striker Fyodor Smolov believes hosting the World Cup will provide an i mportant l egacy for future generations.
Their holding of t he tournament has not been without controversy for a number of reasons.
However, when Russia get things under way against Saudi Arabia today in the Luzhniki Stadium, Smolov admits all t hat matters for the host nation is i mmediate success, although the wider picture also has to be taken into consideration.
“This is a special event for any country i n this position that will stay in the memory for many years to come,” he said.
“All the stadia and infrastructure that have been built for the World Cup will be the legacy of the tournament and help us to develop new generations, teach kids how to play football and improve the sport in our country.
“Your first game is the most important – you start the tournament as you mean to go on.
“We’ve only got three games in the group stage. There is no time to make any plans, we just have to give it 100% from the first minute of the first match and get the best possible result.”
A good start is vital for Russia, who are looking for their first World Cup victory since their opening match of the 2002 tournament against Tunisia.
The omens have not been good in the build-up as Russia have failed to win in seven non-competitive attempts since beating South Korea in October.
“We understand today will be the biggest event of our lives. The lives of every Russian, probably,” said Spartak Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Samedov.
“No matter what, we have to get out of the group. We must win our first game.”
Russia front man Fyodor Smolov.