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Cuba views friendly football match against Russia as 'learning' opportunity

"The Russian football team is an excellent team and they are located in a very good position in the FIFA ranking," the statement from the Cuban national football team reads

MOSCOW, November 13. /TASS/. Cuba views the friendly football match scheduled for later this month against the national squad of Russia as a "learning" opportunity, the press office of the Cuban national team said in a statement to TASS on Monday.

The press service of the Russian Football Union (RFU) announced on November 3 that the country’s national team would play an exhibition match against the Cuban squad. The friendly between Russia (currently 39th in FIFA Rankings) and Cuba (169th in FIFA Rankings) will be held at the Volgograd Arena, in the south of Russia, on November 20 with kick off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Moscow time (4:30 p.m. GMT).

"The Russian football team is an excellent team and they are located in a very good position in the FIFA ranking," the statement from the Cuban national football team reads. "For us it is very beneficial to face rivals like Russia, of course it is interesting for our players, because of their quality and because it will undoubtedly be a difficult exercise that will cause a lot of learning."

"It is also interesting that we will face a football that is tactically different from that played in the CONCACAF [the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football] area and that is very beneficial," according to the statement.

"The team must arrive in Russia after the 16th of this month because the game is on the 20th and they will need to rest from the long trip," the statement added.

The RFU’s press office disclosed to TASS earlier in the day that over 15,000 tickets had already been sold.

"As of today, over 15,000 tickets have been already sold for the match between the national teams of Cuba and Russia," the RFU press service stated.

According to the RFU, the cheapest tickets for the match at the Volgograd Arena are selling for 500 rubles (about $5.5) and the most expensive in the range of 2,500 rubles (over $27).

The 45,000-seat Volgograd-Arena was built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and hosted four group stage matches of the world football championship.

Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, has a population of over one million people, situated along the Volga River. The city and the surrounding areas were the scene of the fiercest battles of World War II, including the Battle of Stalingrad, which was widely considered to be the turning point in the war.

The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) announced on February 28, 2022 that the Russian national team and all professional clubs representing the country were barred from taking part in FIFA-sanctioned events.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) made the same decision with regard to the Russian national football team’s participation in UEFA tournaments.

Both FIFA and UEFA cited Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine as being the reason for their decisions.

Since sanctions were introduced, the Russian national football squad has played a host of friendlies against other countries, namely against Kyrgyzstan (2-1), Tajikistan (0-0), Uzbekistan (0-0), Iran (1-1), Iraq (2-0), Cameroon (1-0) and Kenya (2-2).