MOSCOW, August 10. /TASS/. Russia’s national team head coach Leonid Slutsky has said Monday that naturalization of players is acceptable if they adhere to the level of the national team.
"If they are players that are really stronger than our [players], if they are ready to make this step, if all norms of UEFA and FIFA are fulfilled, then I, of course, have nothing against it. However, I do not know such a player for now," Slutsky told Rossiya 2 TV channel.
On Friday, the Russian Football Union (RFU) announced that it had signed a contract with Slutsky till the end of the European 2016 Cup qualification cycle. Slutsky will hold two positions simultaneously - those of the chief coach of his club, CSKA, and of the national team.
"I would like to say great thanks to the people who invited me into the national team. Possibly that’s indirect recognition I managed to achieve something as a coach before. But I am perfectly aware that the national team in a sense annuls my previous achievements. At this highest level my performance will be scrutinized far more closely and deeply. I don’t feel scared at all. As before, the team has good chances to qualify for the 2016 European Cup finals. At this point only this period is on the agenda," Slutsky said.
The newly-appointed head coach noted that it will be easier for him to work with the national team as he knows all players very well. "I know all footballers. I don’t think that there will be any problems with mutual understanding," Slutsky stressed noting that only footballers from first team squads of their respective clubs will make it to the national team.
According to the head coach, there are no top-level players in the Russian national team now, but current tasks can be fulfilled with the existing team. "There are no such [top-level] players, but it is unnecessary to diminish the level of the team. Footballers have great potential, and it will definitely be enough to fulfill current tasks," Slutsky noted.