Fabio Capello wants to kick start the tournament with a win against Green and White Army; Northern Ireland are eyeing progress to the group stages.
The Russian national team will lock horns with Northern Ireland in the opening match of the World Cup qualifiers at Stadion Lokomotiv on Friday, September 7th, 2012. Both teams will return to action following a disappointing campaign at Euro 2012.
Fabio Capello has made several changes to his squad after the European tournament and Michael O’Neill, on the other hand, wants to write his name into the history books after securing a place in the group stages for his side since 1986.
The Irish team will play the upcoming game against Capello’s men after a pulsating 3-3 draw in an international friendly against Finland national team on August 15th, 2012. Reports in Russia suggest that the Norn Iron have reached Russia and will start training today.
The Russian national team has dropped two places from 13th spot to 11th after a below par European tournament. The Euro 2008 semi-finalists crashed out of the tournament after suffering a 1-0 defeat in the last group stage game against Euro 2004 winners, Greece.
Capello, who signed a two-year contract with the Russian national team after Dick Advocaat’s shocking departure to PSV-Eindhoven in July, will be hoping to re-establish his name after resigning as England’s boss in February.
Probable starting line-up for Northern Ireland: Roy Carroll, Gareth McAuley, Johnny Evans, Chris Baird, Lee Hodson, Chris Brunt, Shane Ferguson, Josh Carson, Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty, and Jamie Ward.
Probable starting line-up for Russia: Akinfeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Sergei Ignashevich, Vasili Berezutski, Taras Burlak, Roman Shirokov, Vladimir Bystrov, Alan Dzagoev, Igor Denisov, Aleksandr Kokorin, Aleksandr Kerzhakov