Sunday, August 20, 2017

Russian Football Union to begin FIFA World Cup preparations in earnest

Russian Football Union Technical Director Andrei Leksakov announced on Wednesday that the RFU's working group on 2018 FIFA World Cup preparations will meet for the first time next week.

"The session of the working group on preparations for the 2018 World Cup will be held on October 2," Leksakov said, according to Itar-Tass. "Russian national team Head Coach Fabio Capello will take part in the session."

Next week's meeting will also be attended by several RFU officials, including President Nikolai Tolstykh, First Vice President Nikita Simonyan, Sports Director Nikholai Pisarev, Secretary General Anatoly Vorobyov and Legal Affairs Advisor Denis Rogachev, Itar-Tass reports.

Among the first matters of business for the working group will be the discussion of Pisarev's proposal to form a football club for members of the Russian national football youth team. The establishment of a football club would give the team's players a permanent practice and game schedule in the months prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and therefore make the Russian national team more competitive during the international games, according to Itar-Tass.

Vorobyov has proposed a similar initiative for discussion, but his plan involves creating a core national team from the best players across several existing Russian football clubs. Like the national team assembled to play in the World Cup games, the proposed Russia-2018 team would also be coached by Capello. Vorobyov's proposal was met with hesitation by Capello himself last week when the head coach described it as a "beautiful, but utopian idea," Itar-Tass reports.

Capello took over as the Russian national team's head coach prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and is credited for helping the team qualify for the games. The team, however, ultimately failed to pass the first stage of the global tournament. Since then, critics have raised concerns regarding the team's performance in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, according to Itar-Tass.