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Russian footballers must ‘force own game’ on Belgium in Sochi friendly match — coach

March 27, 20:34 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian team aims to put up its best performance during the upcoming friendlies on its home turf

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© Arthue Lebedev/TASS

MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. The Russian national football team must do its best ‘forcing own game’ on the skilled Belgian squad during their friendly match in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Tuesday night, Russian team’s Head Coach Stanislav Cherchesov, said on Monday.

Addressing a news conference ahead of the match, Cherchesov said the game "would not be easier or more complicated" compared to the previous ones played by his team, but totally different, "because the Belgians are systematic, more rapid in moving a ball across the field and prone to combinations."

"We will have to adjust to their game, but we will also have to force our game on them as well to gain some advantage over this squad," Cherchesov said.

The Russian team aims to put up its best performance during the upcoming friendlies on its home turf as the country is gearing up to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

However, hosts Russia lost 0-2 last Friday to guests Cote d’Ivoire in the friendly match held at the newly opened stadium in the southern city of Krasnodar.

Commenting on his team’s result against the African team ahead of the friendly with Belgium, Cherchesov said the players deserved criticism and conclusions must follow.

"First of all, criticism must always follow, even after the victories and, moreover, within the team," the Russian coach told a news conference. "The criticism is inevitable after defeats and it should be treated in a calm nature with the necessary conclusions afterwards."

"Positive moments should be seen in defeats and relevant conclusions should be drawn," the Russian team’s head coach said.

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.

March 28 friendly match between Russia and Belgium is scheduled to kick-off at the famous Fisht Arena in Sochi at 7:00 p.m. Moscow time (16:00 GMT). It will be the inaugural international football fixture at the recently reconstructed sports facility in Russia’s south.

The Fisht Arena, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, underwent reconstruction works to be adjusted for hosting matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The head-to-head statistics for Russia and Belgium is totally unfavorable for the hosting team. 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.

According to FIFA’s most recently issued monthly ranking list of the best international teams, Russia remained at the cellar-bottom 60th position, while the so-called ‘Red Devils’ squad from Belgium was solid in the top-ten holding the fifth position (following world’s best Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Chile).

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 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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