The hosts’ manager pointed to Brazil’s recovery from a 7-1 World Cup hammering as proof that his side are on the right track
Stanislav Cherchesov believes support for the Russia national team will continue to grow heading into the World Cup even if they exit the Confederations Cup at the group stage.
The hosts face Mexico in Kazan on Saturday realistically needing a win to seal their place in the semi-finals, given that they are a point behind Mexico and Portugal in the table and the European champions face struggling New Zealand in their game.
Russia fans have boosted attendance figures during these finals and it is expected to be a close-to-capacity crowd at Kazan Arena on Saturday but head coach Cherchesov has no doubt that there renewed backing for his players will continue regardless of the result.
He cited the example of Brazil’s transformation into a side who have already sealed their place at Russia 2018, just three years on from their humiliating 7-1 World Cup loss to Germany.
“I think we’ve managed to pull off a quantitative leap in terms of enthusiasm,” he told a news conference. “We’ve changed quite a bit in terms of our line-up, our game, our attitude and the fans see that.
“Even though we lost against Portugal [on matchday two], our fans supported us after the game. It shows they have a sympathetic ear. We know they want us to win, like any team in the world, but our job and our task at the World Cup is not only to confirm the level that we’re at. At high-profile tournaments, we need to reach a higher quality.”
He added to a journalist from Brazil: “I’m going to take a trip down memory lane. It’s nothing personal. When you lost to the Germans at the World Cup, did the party end for you? You were the first to come to Russia’s World Cup, after us.
“This is sport. We’re simply preparing ourselves for the game. We know what we need to do. Our team is very confident and we’re not thinking about tomorrow, we’re thinking about today.
“Hurdle runners don’t think about the next one, they think about one hurdle at a time.”
It was suggested to Cherchesov that Russia’s difficulty in securing results in key fixtures over recent years could once more haunt them when they meet Mexico, especially given that Juan Carlos Osorio’s side are ranked 46 places above them in FIFA’s official table.
“If their team is so much higher than us in the FIFA ranking then, on paper, they seem better than us,” he said. “But like I said – the only team not the champion of their respective continent is us. We started from the ground up.
“We know Mexico well and we respect this team. We know very well what we need to do. Mexico have options but we do not have any.
“I was not there in past tournaments. That’s the first difference. Secondly, we’re at home. Thirdly… you’ll see.”