Russia coach downplays worries about Salah ahead of Egypt clash

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St. Petersburg, June 18 (IANS) Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov stressed that his side is going up against a team, not just a single player, in comments made here on Monday, a day before their FIFA World Cup match against Egypt.

This will be their second game in Group A, reports Xinhua news agency.

Cherchesov, 54, remarked when asked about their preparation against Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward, who was the recipient of the English Premier League (EPL) Golden Boot in the 2017-18 season.

Salah is likely to return from injury following Egypt’s loss to Uruguay in their tournament opener.

Russia, currently on top of Group A, will play Egypt on Tuesday evening here. If the hosts can achieve another victory, the team might be able to book a ticket to the knockout stage.

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“Every team has a player who deserves special attention, but we are against a team. Tomorrow we will see if he plays, but we are ready for any eventuality,” Cherchesov said.

“I trust my team, I believe in my players. We are ready to do this and we will do this,” he added.

The World Cup got off to an impressive and historical start for the hosts, who won over Saudi Arabia 5-0, a result believed to be the biggest win by a host nation in the World Cup opening game since 1934.

“We have already scored as a winner. Now we have to leave it behind. It is good history, but we have to look ahead and turn over new page in Saint Petersburg,” Cherchesov said.

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He noted that the Egyptian team has some similarity with Saudi Arabia.

“We have studied the team Egypt and we should use their weaknesses,” he said.

He apparently doesn’t want to comment on other teams, saying the team is concentrating on the second match.

“If we don’t go through the second, we could not get any further. Fans are supporting us more after the first game, and tomorrow we have another obstacle and will overcome it…I hope we have a chance to play them (other teams) in the quarterfinal, semifinal and the final.”

Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev told press that they are less nervous now.

“We are in good mood,” he said. “A good mood brings good results…Nothing should stand between us and beautiful football.”

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The team added set-pieces in the last training session before the match against Egypt. Midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who was injured in the previous match, was absent.

–IANS

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