International Friendly: Russia vs Ivory Coast live Now
Newly-appointed Russia coach Fabio Capello will begin his mission to lead the national side into the 2014 World Cup finals with a home friendly against the Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
Capello has said his task is to rebuild confidence in a squad still reeling from their early exit from Euro 2012.
“I’m happy with an opportunity to coach such a strong team as Russia,” Capello said. “But our team’s main goal right now is to win back the love of our supporters, who feel insulted after Euro 2012.
“The players should come into every single match with a strong desire to win and in a true fighting spirit. Russia have all the necessary features to achieve these objectives.”
The 66-year-old Italian warned that team building was one of his priorities and there would be no room for divas on his squad.
“Nobody will have privileges in my team,” said Capello.
“We are all equal, we’re all friends, we’re all members of one team. And we all should work for our team’s good.”
Russia failed to make the two previous World Cup finals and at Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine failed to get past the group stages.
The Euro flop also proved that the team needs new blood with CSKA midfielder Alan Dzagoev the only starter aged under 30 at the event.
The fiasco forced RFU chief Sergei Fursenko to resign and his post remains vacant with elections scheduled for September 3.
It also caused frictions between fans and players with skipper Andrei Arshavin finding himself the brunt of criticism after he had dismissed the national squad’s poor performance as a problem only for its fans.
Calls for the 31-year-old forward to be stripped of his captaincy and even thrown out of the team rang out across the media this summer.
But Capello has refused to be swayed by public opinion and has not only invited Arshavin into his squad but named the Arsenal forward as skipper for the Ivory Coast match.
Capello, who has declared his firm intention of rejuvenating the team, has however included just two rookies so far in his 24-man line-up with the average age just slightly – 1.4 years – younger than predecessor Dick Advocaat’s Euro 2012 squad.
Lokomotiv Moscow’s Andrei Yeshchenko, 28, and CSKA Moscow’s Georgy Shchennikov, 21, will bolster the defensive line, which needs renovation more than any other.
Capello has also called up midfielders Vladimir Bystrov, 28, and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, 27, who both missed Euro 2012 because of their poor physical condition.