SAMARA, June 24. /TASS/. The prime aim of the Russian national football team is to advance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, currently held in 11 cities across Russia, ‘as far as possible,’ national squad’s forward Fyodor Smolov said on Sunday.
The very last time, when the Russian national football team cleared the group stage of the quadrennial world football championships, was at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. Thirty two years ago, the then-Soviet team lost to Belgium 3-2 in the round of Last 16 failing to advance to the quarterfinals.
"I think it is a great honor to be a host country because this World Cup is the first one in Russia’s history," the 28-year-old forward said addressing journalists in Samara speaking English instead of his native Russian language.
"I personally, and the whole squad, are happy that we have the chance to represent our country," Smolov said ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup group stage match against Uruguay in Samara on Monday, June 25.
"You know that before the World Cup we had some not very good results in friendlies," the Russian forward sated. "However, we are very happy that we are already in the playoffs so we are looking forward to go as far as we can."
Earlier in the day, a total of 22 players from the Russian squad appeared for a training session on the pitch of the 45,000-seat capacity Samara Arena amid hot summer temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The practice was held ahead of their final group stage match against Uruguay on Monday.
Both Russia and Uruguay already secured places in the next Round of Last 16 of the global football championship, each enjoying wins over opponents in their two previous group stage matches. Tomorrow’s match will decide on the winner of their Group A, which also enrolls the teams from Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Russia’s possible opponents in the Last 16 will be decided on Monday and they are currently Portugal, Spain and Iran.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.