LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in FUJAIRAH: European champions Russia are staring elimination in the face at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013, four months ago after the under-21s crashed out of the first round of the European finals.
However Dimitry Khomuka, coach of the under-17s, does not consider any connection between these age group results and the prospects for the national team when Russia hosts the FIFA World Cup finals in five years’ time.
The former Soviet Union won the inaugural FIFA Under-17 crown 26 years ago and the Russians’ first appearance probably ended with a 4-0 Group D victory over Venezuela. Russia need significant ‘help’ from the last games in the remaining two groups if they are to survive among the third-placed ‘lucy losers.’
Whatever the outcome, Khomukha considered the tournament an important learning experience.
He said: “Of course we are not satisfied with the result but the team got an experience, it is growing. In the next level they are going to the U-19s and will then be a very experienced and strong team.”
Some of the players who lost all three games in the Euro U-21s in Israel and lost two here may have the opportunity to progress in time for the 2018.
But Khomuka was not concerned about the distant future.
He said: “Both these results are actually a sucess because it was the first time the U-21s qualified for the finals in a long time and it is the first time in the history of Russia than an U-17 team won a European Championship. So it is a huge experience for Russian football anyway and it will lead to some kind of sucess and development.”
Four of the Russian U-17 players – goalkeeper Anton Mitryushkin, defenders Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov and Denis Yakuba and forward Aleksandr Zuev – were chosen in the All-Star Team of the European U-17 Championship after Russia’s final win on penalties over Italy.
At least all four finished the U-17 World Cup on a winning note.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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