MOSCOW: Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov took victory all in his stride and insisted after the World Cup shootout victory that his sole focus now was not celebration but planning the next game writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The hosts, largely written off by their own media before the finals to Cherchesov’s irritation, reached the quarter-finals for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union with a 4-3 shootout defeat of former world champions Spain after a 1-1 extra time draw.
Cherchesov, asked for his reaction, said: “You show your emotions on the touchline when you direct your team during the game. Now it’s over I’m thinking only about the next game. It’s very simple.”
He did expand, however, on the strategy which had restricted Spain to one goal and a mere handful of half-chances and why he took the gamble of switching to a three-man back line.
Cherchesov said: “One of our players [Igor Smolnikov] got a red card in the previous game so we had to find a new system. It was a painful decision and the players had to be persuded this was the only way.
“We don’t like this kind of structure but, thank God, they understood what I was telling them and, thank God, we were victorious. Spain are better than us in many ways so I didn’t believe we should risk going forward and I believe we chose the correct tactic.”
Cherchesov was surprised to see so many major football powers eliminated already from the finals.
He said: “It’s never been this way that so many favourites should lose. I was very upset about Germany because coach [Joachim] Low is my great friend and when I played in Innsbruck it was with him and my son was born in Germany so I was really upset that the German team couldn’t play on.
“As for the other teams, this is football. What can I say? As for us, we found the right place at the right time and achieved the maximum that we could achieve.”