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Russia ready to show their strength

16 Jun 2014 11:02:31

Russia ready to show their strength

Russia defender Vasili Berezutski believes his side have a point to prove as they continue preparations for their opening World Cup Group H match against South Korea in Cuiaba.

The last time the Russians featured in a World Cup was back in 2002, where they were dumped out of the tournament in the group stages having only accumulated three points.

Following 12 years in the abyss, the team - led by former England manager Fabio Capello - managed to finish first ahead of Portugal in qualifying by playing an exciting brand of attacking football.

The 31-year-old Berezutski, who has 78 caps to his name, has paid tribute to the impact Capello has made since taking over back in July 2012.

"We have things to prove in this World Cup," Berezutski told FIFA.com.

"It's been 12 years since Russia have participated in the World Cup so our objective is to play more than three games, try to qualify from our group and after that we will see.

"Capello demands discipline and it's a good thing because everyone is working hard, giving 100 per cent in every session.

"On the other hand, nobody knows us from outside as everybody plays in the domestic competition."

Russia suffered a blow earlier this month when it emerged that captain Roman Shirokov would miss the showpiece event due to a knee injury.

Forward Alexander Kokorin hopes his side are able to show their credentials, while admitting that he is feeling the pressure ahead of his World Cup debut.

"For us it's very important to show 100 per cent of what we're capable of during the group stage and try to qualify without any pressure and then if we qualify try our best to go as far as possible," Kokorin told reporters.

"I really feel a big responsibility because everybody is talking about me as possibly one of the surprises of this World Cup.

"I can't say I'm 100 per cent for now but every day everything is getting better."

Russia midfielder Viktor Fayzulin paid tribute to the South Koreans, revealing his admiration for the way in which the team is set up.

"I remember that I liked Korea's national team," he said, recalling last year's 2-1 win.

"I liked the way they moved, I liked how sharp they were. They are disciplined. As a footballer, I find it hard to play against them. They are quick, small and sharp players."

Meanwhile, South Korea midfielder Ki Sung-yeung is hoping that his side will be able to emulate the exploits of the 2002 World Cup side by progressing past the group stages.

The Taegeuk Warriors are coached by Hong Myung-bo, a former sweeper who led the South Koreans to a memorable semi-finals berth 12 years ago, knocking out Italy and Spain en route to a fourth-placed finish.

And with Russia and South Korea set to battle it out in the race for the second spot, Tuesday's match at Cuiaba could go a long way in determining the outcome of the group.

"We have a good memory from the last World Cup because we qualified through the group stage. So we also want to qualify in this one as well," Ki Sung-yeung said.

"But it's not easy - it's going to be tough. We will suffer from every single game."


PA

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