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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Lodygin (Zenit), Sergei Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan)

Defenders: Vasili Berezutski (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Dmitri Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Alexei Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow), Andrei Semenov (Terek Grozny), Andrey Yeshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala)

Midfielders: Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Viktor Fayzulin (Zenit), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Oleg Shatov (Zenit), Pavel Mogilevets (Rubin Kazan), Yuri Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow)

Forwards: Aleksei Ionov (Dynamo Moscow) Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Aleksandr Kerzhakov (Zenit), Aleksandr Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Aleksandr Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow)

Russia
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Team ProfileEdit

Russia will be aiming to banish the painful memories of previous FIFA World Cup campaigns when they begin their challenge in Brazil.

Following the break up of the Soviet Union, Russia played their first international match as an independent country in 1992, and qualified for the World Cup in the United States two years later.

Their fortunes at that tournament were a sign of things to come however, as they failed to make it out of their group, with their campaign notable only for Oleg Salenko scoring five times in a 6-1 rout of Cameroon in their final group game - a record for the most goals scored by one player in a single World Cup finals match that still stands.

After failing to qualify for the finals in France four years later, Russia returned to grace the world stage in South Korea and Japan in 2002, but once again they failed to impress.

An opening win against Tunisia raised their hopes, but a 1-0 defeat at the hands of co-hosts Japan sparked ugly scenes back in Moscow, where fans - after watching the game on a big screen in the city centre - rioted in the capital, leaving two men dead.

That ugly incident preceded another early exit, with a 3-2 loss to Belgium confirming their elimination.

It proved to be Russia's last game at the World Cup prior to them reaching Brazil.

They failed to qualify for the tournaments in both 2006 and 2010, and fans will be hoping for a more noteworthy performance this time around - starting with their opening Group H fixture against South Korea on June 17.

But they have far more at stake than simply improving a torrid World Cup record.

Now coached by experienced Italian Fabio Capello, they will also want to show that, as hosts of the next tournament in 2018, they are able to compete with the world's elite and that four years from now, they will be capable of producing a team that can mount a genuine challenge.

For now, though, their focus is on the here and now and in Capello they have a tactician who will ensure that concentration does not waver.

The former Milan, Real Madrid and Juventus boss took over in 2012, following a group-stage exit from the UEFA European Championship under Dick Advocaat.

Capello subsequently guided them through a successful World Cup qualifying campaign in which they topped UEFA Group F by one point from Portugal.

The Italian may well feel that he has his own World Cup demons to banish, after a miserable time with England at the 2010 showpiece in South Africa.

After scraping through the group stage, he watched on as his side were taken apart 4-1 by a young, vibrant Germany team in the last 16, as England crashed out having scored just three goals in four matches, subsequently coming in for criticism for his disciplinarian manner and the team's uninspiring style of play.

Now, four years on, as he prepares his side for a group also including up-and-coming Belgium and Algeria, Capello and Russia will be hoping for a more positive experience this time around.


Player Profile (Aleksandr Kerzhakov)Edit

Position: Striker
Date of Birth: November 27, 1982
Club: Zenit
International Debut: v Estonia (March 27, 2002)
World Cup Appearances: 1
World Cup Goals: 0

Aleksandr Kerzhakov will aim to cast aside past disappointments when he leads the line for Russia at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The Zenit striker's experiences of major international tournaments have been largely frustrating to date.

However, the 31-year-old will hope to build on a strong qualifying campaign as he seeks to make an impression on football's greatest stage.

Kerzhakov started all 10 of his country's matches and scored five goals in helping Russia to top Group F by one point ahead of Portugal.

Under coach Fabio Capello, Kerzhakov has forged a productive partnership with Dinamo Moscow's Aleksandr Kokorin.

The latter chipped in with four qualifying goals as Russia reached their first World Cup in 12 years, after failing to make the previous two tournaments in South Africa and Germany.

Drawn in Group H alongside Belgium, Algeria and South Korea, Russia will be strongly fancied to progress to the last 16 and are likely to rely on Kerzhakov to score the goals to propel them into the knockout stages.

He was part of the last national squad to reach the finals in 2002, selected as a 19-year-old by then-coach Oleg Romantsev, three months after making his international debut in a friendly against Estonia.

Yet Kerzhakov played just eight minutes as a substitute in a 3-2 defeat to Belgium that saw Russia knocked out in the group stage.

At the UEFA European Championships in 2004, Kerzhakov was once again restricted to a bit-part role, only featuring in the final group match against Greece as Russia bowed out early in another unsatisfactory campaign.

Further disappointment was to come for Kerzhakov when Russia failed to reach the World Cup in 2006, and there was more heartbreak two years later.

Despite scoring five goals in qualifying for Euro 2008, he was left out of the squad for the finals by Guus Hiddink and had to watch on as Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin fired the team to the semi-finals, where they were defeated by eventual champions Spain.

Kerzhakov's international tournament nightmare continued as Russia missed out on World Cup qualification yet again in 2010.

Although they reached Euro 2012, the striker was unable to make his mark on the finals, failing to score in three starts as his performances were overshadowed by those of young starlet Alan Dzagoev.

A Russian Premier League winner with Zenit in 2010 and 2012, Kerzhakov has failed to recapture the prolific form he showed two seasons ago, when 23 league goals in 32 appearances fired his side to the title.

The season just gone saw him play second fiddle to Brazilian frontman Hulk, but Russian fans will be hoping Kerzhakov can follow up his productive qualifying campaign and put 12 years of international disappointment behind him.


News SourcesEdit

News agencies http://en.itar-tass.com/

And http://en.ria.ru/

http://www.rfs.ru/

Moscow Times http://www.themoscowtimes.com/

Online papers http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/russia.htm

http://english.pravda.ru/