Russian deputy PM visits national team training for Spain match

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Moscow, June 30 (IANS) Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko attended Saturday’s training session by the Russian national team, offering encouragement ahead of their 2018 FIFA World Cup pre-quarterfinal against Spain.

A day before Sunday’s match against Spain, which won Group B, the Russian players circled up for an impassioned speech from Mutko, a former sports minister and current president of the Russian football federation, reports Efe.

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov then led Russia’s final training for Spain at the Novogorsk facility, outside Moscow, instead of at Luzhniki stadium, the venue of the match.

In Dec. 2017, Mutko resigned from his role as chairman of Russia’s 2018 World Cup organizing committee amid allegations of his reported involvement in his country’s doping program.

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Mutko had previously led the Russian soccer federation from 2005-2009 when the national team achieved its greatest success under Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, reaching the UEFA Euro 2008 semifinals, where they fell to Spain 3-0.

On Thursday, Hiddink had also stopped by Russia’s training to wish the players good luck.

–IANS

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