15 Jun Russia ‘on the right track’ but Cherchesov keeping level head after 5-0 triumph
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov believes the hosts are on the right track after their 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia but was keen to move on from the result.
It was a scoreline few saw coming as Russia, ranked 70th and without a win in seven games, produced one of the most emphatic opening-day performances in World Cup history at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
But Cherchesov knows an opening victory does not guarantee progress from the group stage after watching his side beat New Zealand in their Confederations Cup curtain-raiser last year, before successive defeats saw them crash out.
And the former Soviet Union goalkeeper wants to forget all about Thursday’s thumping win ahead of forthcoming clashes with Egypt and Uruguay.
Asked if there was a risk his players could get big-headed after the win, the 54-year-old said: “I don’t think there’s a danger of that, we know why we’re here.
“We went for a walk before the game and we talked about how this tournament is just beginning. OK, we won 5-0 and we got three points but it could have been a draw and only a point – we would still have to get out of the group.
“We won our first game at (last summer’s) Confederations Cup and it didn’t take us too far. So we’re on the right track but we should turn the page and forget this game.”
Cherchesov took a phone call during his post-match press conference before telling reporters it had been president Vladimir Putin asking him to thank his players for the win.
Attention in the host country now turns to Russia’s encounter with Egypt on Tuesday and the expectation levels will surely now go off the charts.
Cherchesov is well aware of that and he warned fans that Russia’s World Cup is like a “crescendo” with each game getting tougher.
He also admitted that Egypt with Mohamed Salah is a different proposition to Egypt without him and Cherchesov said he would be watching Friday’s game with added interest to see if the Liverpool star has really recovered from his shoulder injury.
Saudi Arabia’s Spanish coach Juan Antonio Pizzi did not try to sugar-coat his side’s defeat.
He said: “Results like this don’t happen very often in World Cups and we need to recover from this shameful situation.
“I trust my efforts, I trust my players and I fully trust that we’ll have a better performance in the next game.”
Russia’s win lifted the curtain on a long-awaited tournament which began with a vibrant opening ceremony in which singer Robbie Williams showed his middle finger to the camera.
The hosts dominated from the off, opening the scoring through Yury Gazinsky before substitute Denis Cheryshev grabbed his first just before the break.
Another substitute – Artem Dzyuba – made it 3-0 in the 71st minute before late goals from Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin added to the scoreline.