MOSCOW, August 27. /TASS/. Well-known Spanish fitness trainer Felix Fernandez Ledesma joined the coaching staff of the Russian national football team, a source in the Russian Football Union (RFU) told TASS on Thursday.
"Ledesma has been enrolled in the coaching staff and he will be participating in the team’s preparations for the matches against Sweden and Liechtenstein," the source said.
Russia’s 2016 UEFA Euro Cup qualifier against Sweden and an away friendly against Lichtenstein will be held on September 5 and 8 respectively.
The 36-year-old Spanish fitness trainer worked last season with Russia’s Lokomotiv FC and then signed up with Spain’s Real Madrid. Ledesma also had some experience with the Russian national team, preparing it for matches against the teams from Montenegro and Kazakhstan in March.
The Russian national football team’s coaching staff saw a major overhaul this summer. The previously Italian-dominated staff was dismissed along with former Head Coach Fabio Capello and Russia’s Leonid Slutsky was appointed to take the helm of the team.
Russia’s qualifier against Sweden, to be held at the Okritie Arena in Moscow in two weeks, will be the inaugural match for Slutsky in the capacity of the national team’s head coach.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) announced on July 14 that it reached a mutual agreement with Fabio Capello on the early termination of the contract with the Italian specialist concerning his work in the capacity of the national team’s head coach. The announcement followed Russia’s 0-1 defeat to Austria in the 2016 Euro Cup qualifier in Moscow on June 14.
The qualifier’s defeat in mid-June placed in extreme jeopardy Russia’s chances of travelling to France next year for the Euro Cup. The Russian national team is currently ranked 3rd in its qualifying Group G with 8 points below 2nd ranked Sweden (12 points), while the Austrian team increased its lead over the rest of the five national teams in the group to 16 points.
On August 7, the RFU announced that it concluded a contract with Slutsky, who is also the head coach of CSKA Moscow FC, to take charge of the national football squad until the end of the qualifying session for the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France. Slutsky was allowed to combine his coaching positions both in the club and the national squad until the contract expires.
Slutsky, 44, began career of a coach in 1993 at the age of 22 - he was working with a group of 12 year-old boys in Volgograd and brought the team to the first place in local competitions in 1999. Later on, he worked as the coach of different Russian football clubs.
In October of 2009, he was invited to be the head coach of the CSKA FC taking the club to the leading positions in the national competitions.