KRASNODAR, March 23. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Friday he was glad that CSKA Moscow FC goalkeeper was named the captain of the Russian national team.
Russian football team’s Head Coach Stanislav Cherchesov announced earlier in the day that Akinfeyev would be the captain of the national team during the next two friendly matches against Cote d’Ivoire on Friday and Belgium on March 28.
"I have no doubts in this regard as he is a real captain and a person devoted to football, the country and the team," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), said.
"I can only voice my approval and wish him good luck," he said. "Igor is the face of our football and I am glad [that he was chosen to be the captain]."
The Russian team aims to put up its best performance during the upcoming friendlies at its home turf as the country is gearing up to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The friendly match between Russia and Cote d’Ivoire will be held on Friday night at the newly opened stadium in the southern city of Krasnodar.
The new football stadium in Krasnodar was opened in early October last year with the inaugural friendly match between the national teams of Russia and Costa Rica. The guests not only scored the first official goal at the new stadium, but eventually won the game beating hosts Russia 4-3. The 34,300-seat stadium was constructed in the Russian southern city within a period of three and a half years and is now serving as the home stadium for local Krasnodar football club.
The next international friendly match of the Russian national team will be played against Belgium. The fixture is scheduled to kick-off at the famous Fisht Arena in Sochi at 7:00 p.m. Moscow time (16:00 GMT).
The head-to-head statistics between the hosts and so-called ‘Red Devils’ team from Belgium is totally unfavorable for Russia. Belgium defeated Russia 3-2 at 2002 FIFA World Cup, then marched by the Russian squad with confident 2-0 victory in a friendly match in 2010 and during the most recent encounter at the 2014 FIFA World Cup edged the Russian 1-0.
National teams around the globe are currently in the qualifying stage battling for a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while Russia as the host nation has been already guaranteed a berth in the world’s main quadrennial football event.
Therefore, the Russian national team is playing friendly football matches in the run-up to the much anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup.