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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Russia confident they can cope with threat of Mohamed Salah

Manager Stanislav Cherchesov says he has 'trust' in his players to handle the Liverpool forward if he does start the Group A game in Saint Petersburg

Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov is confident his side will get the better of Egypt. Georgi Licovski / EPA
Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov is confident his side will get the better of Egypt. Georgi Licovski / EPA

Russia are convinced they know how to nullify Mohamed Salah should the Egypt forward be passed fit for Tuesday’s Group A encounter in Saint Petersburg.

Question marks remains as to whether Salah will start against the hosts at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, with his availability the focus of Monday's pre-match press conference.

The Liverpool winger, who scored 44 goals for his club last season, did not play any part in Egypt’s opening 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday as he attempts to fully recover from a should injury sustained in last month’s Uefa Champions League final.

However, Salah is expected to be included in the first XI against Russia, who top the group following Thursday’s resounding 5-0 victory against Saudi Arabia.

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Asked how he planned to stop Salah, when most teams in England and Europe failed, Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov said: “What can I say? I trust in my team, I believe in my players and I will give you a simple answer to your question: we are ready to do this and we will do this.

“We study every team and, while every team has players that you have to pay special attention to, if we take Egypt, it’s a balanced team.

"Of course, Mo Salah is the strongest one in the team - we understand this. But still we are not playing against one player. We have to take into consideration all the players. We understand how to do this and tomorrow you will see this.”

Russia’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages for the first time in the post-Soviet era were boosted significantly by their win against the Saudis. The victory, and the manner of it, also went some way to silencing the team’s critics after they came into the tournament beset by injury and poor form.

Yet another three points will practically secure Russia’s place in the last 16.

“Now we have to leave this victory behind us,” Cherchesov said. “This is history already. This is good history, but let us start with a clean page and I hope that in Saint Petersburg we will succeed.

“We feel comfortable, we are in a good mood. A couple of days before Saudi Arabia we were more nervous than usual, but we coped with this. I believe that our players have shown that they can play well.

“I want to repeat: this is the World Cup and no game is easy. There has not been an easy game here. We are thinking about here and today."

Captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was later asked if he would prefer not to play against Salah, and replied: “I don’t even know how to start responding to your question frankly. I would prefer that my team win tomorrow, that’s my response.”